|Dr. John Witherspoon Scott|
|Underground Railroad sign|
On what appears to be just another struggling storefront in Midwest America at the corner of Compton & Hamilton Ave in Mt. Healthy, is a small wooden sign announcing "a stop on the Underground Railroad in 1840". I decided to check up on that assertion as I really enjoy uncovering more info on forgotten and obscure local history.
It turns out there was an entire Underground Railroad system up and down Hamilton Avenue in the early 19th Century.
|Dr. Scott's former home in Mt Healthy |
c.late 1800s (left side)
|Dr. Scott's former home in Mt Healthy c.2012|
So, back to the sign. Was this a stop on the Underground Railroad? Probably. Sometimes these claims are difficult to prove since their actions were illegal in Ohio* and left few records but based on who lived there, the amount of activity of this type in the area and the fact that there are traces of tunnels and hidden rooms inside the home, it seems very likely.
On a related note, Happy 162nd Anniversary to Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. It first appeared in an abolitionist periodical on June 5th 1851 as a series which led to it being published as a book the next year.
*Coincidentally on this same date, June 5th 1804, one year after Ohio Statehood, the Ohio General Assembly enacted the so called Black Laws that required African-Americans to prove they were free and anyone harboring an escaped slave could be fined.
Many thanks to the excellent local history book available to read online, A Little Piece of Paradise...College Hill, Ohio by Betty Ann Smiddy as well as the Mount Healthy Historical Society website for information in researching this article.