For slaves fleeing captivity, the Underground Railroad
was the most viable means of escape, and with over three thousand miles of clandestine routes and secret trails, Ohio
had the country’s most extensive network of safe houses. A great number of these passageways were concentrated throughout the state’s east central region, particularly the inland channels of Coshocton, Holmes and Guernsey Counties and the now-famous canal route, a major conduit winding through Tuscarawas and Stark Counties. Similarly, runaways sought refuge in the hills and valleys of Harrison County, as well as in the Quaker stronghold of Columbiana County. Using the letters of Wilbur H. Seibert, along with contemporary photographs of area safe houses, Janice VanHorne-Lane provides an intimate account of east central Ohio’s profound contributions to the Underground Railroad and its mission—freedom for all.
A system of secret transportation known as the Underground Railroad conducted ruanway slaves from the Deep South to freedom in Canada. That the territory that is now the state of Ohio was closed to settlement by the British was one of the contributing factors in the Revolution.