The conclusion, from conducting the railroad in our own experience: that the fugitives of the slave era could not have done this without the concerted help of many people along the way who came forward out of principle. This was true in our own experience now and it was evidently true then.
By example, there must have been a lot of people who helped fugitives in the fugitive slave era as there were people helping our fugitives today. It stands as a statement of character then and it did now, as we saw it in our experience.
Spring rains, high water and mud roads. It was of a 19th century experience. Our own experience with the runaway slaves was more real than we expected.
There were moments of our fugitive weekend which were vivid
in mind with insight. The
rain. It poured.
The rain and lightening again at dawn. The rising river. Conducting our travelers
across the river in a break for the other side. Seeing the fugitives assemble in silhouette on
the river bank of the other side, and then watching them from
In vivid reflection, we watched this repeat again in later
morning as our fugitives filed out of Croton and walked up into the woods
disappearing on to forest trails bound for
Then came rains again and more storm. Mud trails to traverse and more high water crossings. Hail. It was a vivid 19th century mirage, these 'sufferings of exposure', as it was called in the era.
The help we received was determined.
"We will do what we need to do to make it happen." "Call me and we will be there when you are ready…"
making this happen for these fugitives, several people were instrumental in
conducting the escape. I am sure that a
similar energy to theirs was also there in the fugitive slave era. Our boatman who was there
in the rain and storm and high water of the early morning. Our horsemen who were there
to relay our exposed fugitives beyond the reach of the river and forests up to
The conclusion in our own experience: the fugitives could not have done this without the help of many people along the way who came forward out of principle. That was true now and it tells us that it was evidently true then.
There must have been a lot of people who helped fugitives in that era as there were today. It stands as a statement of character then and now. It is high in my appreciation and regard that these people worked with us to make this happen in our own time, and of course before.
Conductor on the Railroad, Doug Hamilton
There are many parallels to the original era in our present-day
attempt to walk the path of the underground rail road to freedom. Many
people had to have helped on the underground then as did many people in our
In reflection, it is with much gratitude that we recognize the generous nature of so many people along the way who helped with our present day runaway of fugitives along the underground rail road of old. Historians, conductors, property owners, the Athens State Historical Site, The Shimek State Forest, the Primrose Saddle Club, the Salem Lewelling House, our river boatman Mike Saltzgaver, our teamsters, the Steve Prickett family from Salem, Heather Godley who at Scattergood Friends School doggedly taught her history classes towards this runaway, the students, staff and the administration of Scattergood Friends School www.scattergood.org
With Kind Regards to Thee, -Doug Hamilton, Conductor
By way of record, let me share this with you:
Iowa Journal of History and Politics, v24-1924
Owen Garretson, remembering:
spirit of liberty is implanted in every human soul and can not be
Daggs finally realized the difficulty of holding
slaves so near the
"To this lonely dwelling
"No sooner had they arrived at this home, than a terrific rain set in and they were compelled to stay all the next day and part of the following night."
"Sometime Friday night,
the rains having ceased, the Negroes started for the north accompanied by their
host. On reaching the
"On Monday, following
the escape of the Negroes, two men,…who were searching
for the Negroes and heading their course toward
(This material quoted here from
the research notes of Lewis D. Savage of
Itinerary for the
to the area. The very
Northeast corner of
2) Drive a few short miles
3) Camp and sleep in the park, on the ground
Saturday, May 11th
Pre-dawn, cross the
Breakfast in Croton at a small park on the
later, meet on the north side of the
May 12th, Sunday
runaway north to
Sunday night sleep in the underground
railroad station or with local Quakers in homes used to hide slaves
historically? Runaways fed dinner &
slaves return either to