The Underground Railroad

Wendell L. Haworth

My Direct Line 

Good morning!

In 30 short minutes we're going to cover 2 and a half  centuries (early-1600s to 1860) of American and Quaker history surrounding The Underground Railroad….an activity that aided and abetted criminal actions (based on the laws that existed in those days) and over-turned conventional society of its time.



}      What was The Underground Railroad?

}      Background of the Underground Railroad

}      Ha(y)worth Participants on the Underground Railroad

First we’ll see what The Underground Railroad was, then how it operated as a conduit for those attempting to escape slavery in the pre-Civil War United States.

Next I'll cover selected highlights of the political and socio-economic forces that, over the period of early 1600s through 1865, evolved from an early-on wide-spread acceptance of slavery, to a later divergence of thought on how slaves should be treated and whether they should be considered as owned property or free. We'll see how decisions made by the legislative, judicial and executive branches of our United States government attempted to appease, but actually exacerbated slave versus non-slave forces. We’ll also see how one of these forces, our Quaker ancestors, took bold actions in a period of social turmoil that placed them in jeopardy of possible arrest, fines and confinement, for assisting fugitive slaves to escape from their masters.

Finally, I'll wrap up with four documented examples of Haworth ancestors who directly participated in operating The Underground Railroad.


What was the Underground Railroad?

Underground Railroad Routes


The Underground Railroad, a term first used about 1830, refers to neither underground nor a railroad. It was a clandestine, informal organization of escape routes and hideaway locations for runaway slaves fleeing from slave states in North America to escape to the Free states, Canada, Mexico or even overseas locations, through the mid-1860s. Railroads were the technological wonder of that age and use of the term "Underground Railroad" probably captured the imagination of Americans in associating with the loosely organized and haphazard escape routes and support systems used by runaway slaves.

Most people supporting the Underground Railroad only knew their part of the operation and not of the whole system. Because of threats from Federal Marshalls and professional bounty hunters, information about routes and safe havens was passed along by word of mouth. Routes were often purposely indirect in order to throw off pursuers.


What was the Underground Railroad?

}      UGRR Code Words






    Station Masters


Escaped slaves and the people who aided them used many railroad-related terms as code words to operate the Underground Railroad.

For example: "Agents" made initial contact and assisted escapees, referred to as "Passengers" or "Cargo," to obtain a "Ticket" on the railroad.

Individuals known as "Conductors" guided the movement of runaways from station to station.

These "Stations," or "Depots," were hiding places, often homes family homes, owned and/or operated by "Station Masters," where the runaways could sleep and eat.

Those who provided assistance by money or supplies were called "Stockholders."


What was the Underground Railroad?

Wagon with False Bottom

The escaped slaves traveled by whatever means they could, sometimes by boat or on real railways, but usually on foot or by wagon, moving almost entirely at night and hiding during the day. These "passengers" generally covered about 10–20 miles per night, stopping at the "stations" or "depots" during the day to eat and rest. While resting at one station, a message would be sent to the next station master that the runaways were on their way. Money was donated by many people to help buy tickets and clothing for the fugitives so they would remain unnoticeable.

In the South and the North, The Underground Railroad agents, conductors, station masters and stockholders were free blacks and whites who provided the runaways with food, clothing, directions, and places to hide. Some Southern slaves also helped fugitives escape. In the North, many Quakers and other white abolitionists furnished hiding places and helped slaves move from one station to the next.


What was the Underground Railroad?

Wanted Posters


The risk of discovery was great.

Federal marshals and professional bounty hunters pursued fugitive slaves as far as the Canadian border. In the South, every town erected special jails to house captured runaways, and every newspaper carried numerous ads identifying fugitives in great detail as to their physical descriptions, such as color, size, gender, age, and physical markings, as well as their attitude.

The ads also indicated where the fugitive was likely headed and sometimes their motives for running away. Newspapers ran ads listing those slaves recently captured and confined in jail. If the slave's owner did not claim a captured slave within a short period of time, the runaway would be sold in a public auction.

The risk of capture was not limited solely to actual fugitives. Because strong, healthy blacks in their prime working and reproductive years were highly valuable commodities, it was not unusual for free blacks — both freedmen, former slaves) and those who had lived their entire lives in freedom — to be kidnapped and sold into slavery.


What was the Underground Railroad?

Certificate of Freedom

"Certificates of freedom" — signed, notarized statements attesting to the free status of individual blacks — could easily be destroyed and thus afforded their owners little protection. Moreover, under the terms of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, when suspected fugitives were seized and brought to a special magistrate known as a commissioner, they had no right to a jury trial and could not testify in their own behalf, since technically they were guilty of no crime; the marshal or private slave-catcher only needed to swear an oath to acquire a writ of replevin, for the return of property. (A writ of replevin is a prejudgment process ordering the seizure or attachment of alleged illegally taken or wrongfully withheld property to be held in the U.S. Marshal's custody or that of another designated official, under order and supervision of the court, until the court determines otherwise. This type of writ is commonly used to take property from an individual wrongfully in possession of it and return it to its rightful owner.)


What was the Underground Railroad?

Underground Railroad Routes



Almost from the beginning of slavery in North America, southern slave masters struggled to cope with the constant problem of runaway slaves. Many were actually truants who ran off to visit wives or husbands, family, and friends on neighboring plantations before returning to their masters.

The majority were from the slave states which bordered the Free states, and were young, usually skilled, laborers who believed their skills gave them a chance of survival in the North. Many fugitives established livelihoods as free men, and later purchased their wives, children, and other family members out of slavery. However, those who settled in the Free states could be captured and returned to slavery. Therefore, many fled to Canada, especially after Congress passed the strict fugitive slave law in 1850.

The most heavily traveled routes of the Underground Railroad ran through Ohio, Indiana, and western Pennsylvania. Large numbers of fugitives followed these routes and reached Canada by way of Detroit or Niagara Falls, New York. Others sailed across Lake Erie to Ontario from such ports as Erie, Pennsylvania, and Sandusky, Ohio. In the East, the chief center of the Underground Railroad was southeastern Pennsylvania. Many runaway slaves followed routes from that area through New England to Quebec.


What was the Underground Railroad?

Levi & Katie Coffin                                             Harriett Tubman


Several people became famous for their work with the Underground Railroad. Levi Coffin, a Quaker who was called the "president of the underground railroad," helped more than 3,000 slaves escape. His home in Newport (now Fountain City), Indiana, was on three major escape routes. (We'll see later in this report that Joel and James Haworth, of Indiana, allied directly with Levi Coffin in the Underground Railroad.)

Perhaps the most famous black leader of the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave herself. She returned to the South 19 times and helped about 300 blacks escape to freedom.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      Slavery has existed since pre-historic times

}      Pre-1619 Colonial America:

         Native Americans

         Indentured Servants from Europe

}      1619: First African slaves arrived

}      1650: Best land in hands of wealthy plantations

}      Gradual transition to chattel slavery

It is difficult from our present-day, 2009, perspective, 150-year removed from the times and events surrounding the Underground Railroad, to understand the drastic political impact and economic consequences its activities had on our nation, and what a revolutionary idea and in-your-face (illegal?) movement it was to perpetrate.

Let's start by looking at the backdrop in which the Underground Railroad originated and operated.

First, the record of slavery issues in America that lead to this activist role, and then followed by snippets of Quaker views and experiences concerning slavery and The Underground Railroad.

Slavery began in prehistoric times and has been practiced as a matter of course by many cultures around the world ever since.

In early Colonial America the enslavement of Native Americans was common.

Europeans arrived at the colonies in substantial numbers as indentured servants, who worked as servants upon arrival to pay for the cost of their voyage.

The first record of African slavery in Colonial America occurred in 1619; during a time when the colonists were suffering extremely high mortality rates caused by disease, malnutrition, and war with Native Americans leaving able-bodied laborers in short supply. A Dutch ship landed near the colonies in dire need of repairs and supplies. Its cargo included slaves captured in battle at sea from a Spanish ship headed to Mexico. The colonists were in need of able-bodied workers and, so, traded food and services for the human cargo.

White citizens of Virginia, who had arrived from Britain, decided to treat the first Africans in Virginia as indentured servants. As a result, the Africans were freed after a stated period and given the use of land and supplies by their former owners.

By 1650, the best lands were already in the hands of wealthy plantation families, consequently, when the former servants, indentured or otherwise, became free from their servitude requirements; their chances for gaining greater opportunities for prosperity of their were almost non-existent.

They became disconcerted with their situation and posed a potentially precarious element to the wealthy landowners. Several rebellions preceded a gradual transformation from indentured servitude to chattel slaves who were the personal property of slave owners.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

As the American colonies were growing, France, England, and the Netherlands established colonies in the West Indies and greatly increased the African slave trade throughout the Western Hemisphere.

From the 1500s to the mid-1800s, the Europeans are estimated to have shipped more than 12 million black slaves from Africa to the Western Hemisphere. About 2 million of these slaves died on the way. About 65 percent of the slaves were sent to Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and other sugar colonies. Brazil alone received about 38 percent.

About 5 percent of these slaves, or roughly 600,000 individuals, were brought to what is now the United States.

Slavery played a major role in the economic development of the United States. Slaves helped clear the wilderness and build important canals, railroads, and roads. In the South, slavery flourished where large plantations grew cotton, tobacco, indigo, rice and other crops. The cotton picked by slaves became the nation's most valuable export. Income from cotton paid for a major share of U.S. imports.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      1750s: Sentiment grew against slavery

}      1780-1804: Emancipation Acts passed in all Northern states

}      1787: U.S. Constitution Adopted

     ◦        Congress prevented from banning importation of slaves until 1808

     ◦        “Three-Fifths Compromise” – in practice, benefitted slave holders

     ◦        Prior to 1850:

                         Southern presidents - 50 of 62 years  

                         Southerner Supreme Court Justices-18 of 31 positions

Beginning in the 1750s, sentiment grew that slavery was a social evil and should eventually be abolished.

All the Northern states passed emancipation acts between 1780 and 1804; most of these arranged for gradual emancipation and a special status for freedmen.

In 1787, The United States Constitution was adopted.

Among its several legislative components was one that prevented Congress from banning the importation of slaves until 1808.

It also included the “Three-Fifths Compromise,” a compromise between Southern and Northern states, in which three-fifths of the population of slaves would be counted for enumeration purposes regarding the distribution of taxes and the apportionment of members of the US House of Representatives. In practice, since slaves could not vote, slaveholders benefitted from increased representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. This compromise is generally credited with giving pro-slavery proponents a disproportionate share of political power in the U.S. government from that point on until the Civil War.

For example, in the period prior to 1850, southerners held the Presidency for 50 of 62 years, and 18 of 31 Supreme Court Justice appointments despite the north having nearly twice the population by 1850.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      1793: Cotton Gin Invented


Whitney's invention of the cotton gin


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      1793: Cotton Gin Invented

}      January 1, 1808: Further importation of slaves banned

}      1820s-1830s: Time of social turmoil

     ◦        Protestant religious revivalism, charities

     ◦        Prohibition, prison and insane asylum reform, Labor unions, education

            Women’s rights

     ◦        Abolition movement

However, just as demand for slaves was increasing, the supply was restricted. On January 1, 1808, at the earliest possible Constitutionally-allowed date, Congress implemented measures that banned further importation of slaves. Any new slaves would have to be descendants of ones currently in the United States.

The 1820's and 1830's was a time of social turmoil.

Protestant religious revivalism was sweeping the United States. Church membership rose. Many people joined social reform movements to improve society. Churches and other reform groups set up charities to aid the poor.

Prohibitionists pressed states to outlaw the sale of liquor. Women's participation in activities outside the home became more socially acceptable, especially in the North. Reformers campaigned to improve the dismal conditions in the nation's prisons and "insane asylums." Workers joined labor unions to pressure employers to raise wages, to improve working conditions, and to reduce the workday to 10 hours from the usual 12 to 14 hours. Reformers also worked for better education, women's rights, and the abolition of slavery.

In the early 1800's, most good schools in the United States were expensive and private. Poor children went to second-rate "pauper," or "charity," schools, or did not go at all. African-American children were not allowed to attend most schools in the North, and in the South it was a crime to teach slaves to read.

In the 1800's, American women had few rights. There were almost no colleges for women, and most professional careers were closed to them. A married woman could not own property; any property she had belonged to her husband. Women could not vote in most elections. Many Americans believed in the idea of "separate spheres." This idea held that women's sphere was the home and men's area of activity was the larger world outside the home.

Finally, enter the abolition movement as the most intense and controversial reform activity of the period.

The growing strength of the abolition movement made Southerners fear that the federal government would outlaw slavery.

Southerners had always argued that slavery was necessary to the plantation economy. Northerners, on the other hand feared that the South would gain greater control of Congress if Western territories entered the Union as slave states.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      Era of Compromises Intensifies Slavery Issues:

     ◦        Missouri Compromise of 1820

     ◦        Mexican-American War (ended 1848)

     ◦        Compromise of 1850

     ◦        Fugitive Slave Act

     ◦        1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act

     ◦        Dred Scott Decision

In order to maintain a semblance of balance of slave vs. non-slave state power during this period of rapid geographic expansion and fulfillment of the Doctrine of Manifest Destiny, Congress entered into a number of compromises as new expanses of territory came under United States control.

I'll briefly cover these and the Dred Scott Decision, which brought the U.S. Supreme Court to center stage on the issue of slavery.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

The "Missouri Compromise of 1820," in simplistic terms, "forever prohibited" slavery in the former Louisiana Purchase Territory north of 36 degrees 30' North Latitude, except within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri, and permitted it in Missouri and the Arkansas Territory.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Mexican-American War Expansion (1848)

In 1848, the end of the "Mexican-American War" aggravated the dispute between the North and South over the expansion of slavery. It was clear that the newly acquired region, previously under Spanish rule, would be eventually split up into territories and then states. Southerners argued against any limitations on slavery in the new territories and states: while Northerners wanted the federal government to ban slavery in the newly acquired lands. Some politicians tried to compromise by proposing the "Rule of Popular Sovereignty" whereby citizens of the territories and states would decide for themselves whether to allow slavery.

In 1849, California applied for admission as a free state and stirred the slavery turbulence even more since their application would upset the existing balance of free and slave states. Southerners recognized that the faster growth of the Northern population meant that Northerners would control the House of Representatives. Southerners insisted on maintaining their powerful position in the Senate by blocking the admission of new Free states. They threatened a war if Congress admitted California without slavery.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

To calm the move toward war, Congress passed the Compromise of 1850 that, in effect, nullified the Compromise of 1820. Its laws made concessions to both the North and South. To satisfy the North, California would be admitted as a free state, but slavery itself, in Washington, D.C., would not be abolished. As part of the compromise, Congress created the territories of New Mexico and Utah under the rule of popular sovereignty, whereby when these territories became states, their voters would decide whether or not to allow slavery.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Fugitive Slave Act

By 1850, anti-slavery activities such as the Underground Railroad were becoming more influential and successful. As a result, The Compromise of 1850 also enacted the Fugitive Slave Act in an attempt to stop Northerners from helping slaves who escaped into Northern states. It required that if an escaped slave was sighted, he or she must be apprehended and turned in to the authorities for deportation back to the "rightful" owner in the south. Federal marshals were required to capture suspected fugitives and return them to the South and were entitled to a bonus for their work. It contained a heafty penalty of $1,000 for anyone who refused to return a runaway slave. The suspected slave could not ask for a jury trial or testify on his or her own behalf. In addition, any person aiding a runaway slave by providing food or shelter was subject to six months' imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.

The Fugitive Slave Act enraged Northerners, as the federal government began enforcing slavery everywhere in the country.

The Compromise of 1850 did not solve the problem of the expansion of slavery into the West. In the early 1850's, Congress began considering the creation of more new territories in the area roughly between Missouri and present-day Idaho.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

By 1854 the United States had fulfilled its "manifest destiny" of controlling the entire geographical expanse from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. Congress passed the Kansas- Nebraska Act, which created the Kansas and Nebraska Territories and allowed slavery to spread into the new territories by the rule of popular sovereignty, if the settlers decided to allow it.

Everywhere, angered by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, attitudes for or against the slavery issue toughened, and the possibility for further compromise diminished. Antislavery Northerners formed the Republican Party in 1854. Many Democrats and Whigs who opposed slavery left their parties and became Republicans. Others, disturbed by the disorder, wanted simple answers to the country's problems. They joined the Know-Nothing (or American) Party, which blamed the problems on immigrants and Roman Catholics.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act was a political disaster. After 1854, Southerners saw themselves as a separate group. In the North, abolitionists stepped up their campaign against slavery, and their message was more popular than before.

In 1856, in "Bleeding Kansas," fighting broke out between proslavery and antislavery settlers.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Dred Scott Decision

By the mid-1850's, only the Supreme Court seemed to have nationwide authority and respect.

However, in 1857, the court lost even that level of authority when it ruled in its Dred Scott Decision that African Americans could not be citizens of the United States and that laws limiting the spread of slavery were unconstitutional. Many Northerners came to believe that the government was controlled by forces wishing to expand slavery across the country, including into the North.


Dred Scott was an African-American slave who was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. He lived on free soil for a long period of time.

When the Army ordered his master to go back to Missouri, he took Scott with him back to that slave state, where his master died. In 1846, Scott was helped by Abolitionist (anti-slavery) lawyers to sue for his freedom in court, claiming he should be free since he had lived on free soil for a long time. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Roger B. Taney, was a former slave owner from Maryland.

In March of 1857, Scott lost the decision as seven out of nine Justices on the Supreme Court declared no slave or descendant of a slave could be a U.S. citizen, or ever had been a U.S. citizen. As a non-citizen, the court stated, Scott had no rights and could not sue in a Federal Court and must remain a slave.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Now that we've been through a laundry list of the ever-changing, politically expedient compromises and national-level laws and events that was the backdrop for the operation of the Underground Railroad, let's take a look at that same era through the eyes of our Haworth ancestors. To do that, the source I've chosen is Memoirs of Wayne County and the City of Richmond Indiana, by the Honorable Henry Clay Fox.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      Memoirs of Wayne County….Chap XI, “Newport (IN) in Anti-Slavery Times”

     ◦        Strongest element – freedom from war and slavery.

     ◦        Influenced by teachings of George Fox

     ◦        Friends first engaged in importation of slaves

     ◦        Viewpoint changed to anti-slavery

     ◦        Carolina and Virginia Quakers came under suspicion and were refused a

         part of governmental affairs

     ◦        Quakers escape to Northwest Territory

}        Here are some excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times" of that book: (Pg 153):

}        "The strongest element that settled in and around the town (of Newport, IN) was that freedom loving class—i.e., freedom from war and slavery—that came from the Carolinas and Virginia. They were a positive, determined class, who in the main defended and maintained the right. They were intensely temperate and no saloon for the sale of liquor ever found an abiding place among them. Their feelings against slavery were very strong, 'hence, with unfaltering zeal and earnestness, they denounced it and refused to give, by word or act, the accursed institution directly or indirectly any aid or comfort.' "

}         "Early in the history of the Nation (1750-1760) the Friends were agitating over the question of war, their early impressions being influenced by the teachings of George Fox. They often had to suffer for this, either by fines or imprisonment, and during the Revolution their peace policy caused them to be regarded by many as hostile to American Independence, which was a drawback to America but a help to England."

}        "As to slavery, the Friends first engaged in the importation of slaves, but early in their history a few became opposed to the practice. Many early slave holders were honest in believing that it was a Christian act to bring the colored people from their regions (Africa) of ignorance and superstition to those (America) of intelligence. The Friends had the feeling that they could better care for the slaves and that their buying them would bring them under better influence."

}        Over time, this viewpoint changed. Although some slaves fell into good hands, these were few compared to the many who were ill treated. Their opinion was that the slaves did not come here to America of their own accord, but were brought here and thus the Quaker’s were responsible for them. "It is our duty to do by them as we would be done by 'Sincerity of heart and upright walking before God and freely submitting to his Providence is the most sure remedy.' "

}        Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times," Pg 154:

}        "The Society of Friends became united in forbidding the practice of holding slaves by the members. A query required to be answered at that time (1750-1800) was: "Are Friends clear of purchasing, disposing of, or holding mankind as slaves?""

}         "As this Quaker element against slavery in Carolina and Virginia became stronger and stronger, so the element favoring it became stronger and stronger, and gradually came to look upon the Quakers with suspicion, also refused them a part in the governmental affairs, and later inflicted punishments upon them. This state of affairs was not to be and could not be continued."

}        Quakers started to make their exit from the Carolinas and Virginia.


Underground Railroad Backdrop


"How fortunate for them (Quakers) that there was a way to escape. In 1787 the Northwest Territory was to be opened up and invited settlement. This proved the place of refuge for the persecuted Friends in the South. They began leaving, a few at a time, and settled in what are now the States of the Northwest Territory, particularly Ohio and Indiana."

Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times", Pg 155:

"After the agitation and settling of the Missouri Compromise, thousands left (North Carolina), a very large per cent being Quakers. Again, as a result of the South Carolina Nullification frolic, other thousands left; then, when the legislature disenfranchised the free colored men (by revision of the State Constitution in 1835) and forbade masters from educating their slaves (law of 1830-32) the tide of emigration increased and flowed without ceasing till the Rebellion."

"Most of the immigrants came from North Carolina and the largest number came between the years 1815 and 1860. However, they continued to come until after the (Civil) War."


Underground Railroad Backdrop

}      Memoirs of Wayne County….Chap XI, "Newport (IN) in Anti-Slavery Times"

     ◦        Immediate vs. gradual emancipation….

     ◦        Organized societies, worked the press

     ◦        "brickbats, stones and rotten eggs were some of the arguments we had to meet"

     ◦        "Pro-slavery party still held the reins of government"

     ◦        Weekly "Protectionist" published

Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times", Pg 156:

"Some Friends believed in the immediate and unconditional emancipation, while others believed in a gradual emancipation or colonization. However, they were agreed on one thing, and that was, that the Negro should be freed."

 "It is interesting to observe the different ways different individuals went about to accomplish their purpose. Some went about organizing societies; others worked through the press, while a third class presented their ideas from the platform. There was in the East an organization known as the Anti-Slavery Society. Friends at Newport felt the need of something of this kind. In 1838 they held a conference and decided to organize an Anti-Slavery Library Society. All the books, tracts, and other publications on the subject were to be collected and distributed among the people. At that time there was a depository of anti-slavery publications at Cincinnati and $25 were subscribed with which to purchase some of these publications."

 " 'It tried a man's soul to be an Abolitionists in those days, when brickbats, stones and rotten eggs were some of the arguments we had to meet' " (Pg. 227 of "Reminiscences of Levi Coffin.")

… The anti-slavery sentiment steadily grew throughout the Nation, but the pro-slavery party still held the reins of government."

"Another means of getting the people to see the evils of slavery was, as stated before, through the press. In 1841 a press was established, issuing a weekly paper known as the "Protectionist." This was the organ of the Liberty party and the advocate of peaceable abolition of slavery, which was the doctrine of the party.

((This paper favored high tariff. In 1843 the "Free Labor Advocate," was established, with Benjamin Stanton as the editor.))

 Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times", Pg 157:

"The purpose of the 'Protectionist' was first 'to awaken…the slave holding States to a sense of their danger, and of the necessity for a remedy; to exhibit the progressive infringements of the slave power upon our rights, or liberties, and our prosperity; to demonstrate that slavery and liberty, being diametrically opposed to each other, can never harmonize or long co-exist under the same government; and finally, to show the abomination of the sin of slavery, and that in all its features it is opposite to that of righteousness which exalteth a Nation.

Second, to give brief sketches of the most interesting foreign and domestic intelligence, together with extracts and essays on subjects of a moral and religious nature.

In short, it is intended to make the 'Protectionist' a welcome visitor to every family where human liberty is regarded as the unalienable right of man; and that its columns shall be exclusively occupied with such matter as is useful to those who are desirous of walking in the ways of wisdom and truth.' "

 Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times", Pg 163:

"The feeling that it was wrong to use anything that had come in contact with slave labor was continually growing stronger. … To condemn the slaveholder and then to use the fruits of his slave’s labor was inconsistent. "The Free States furnished a good market for the products of the South and made slave labor valuable to the master." " 


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Underground Railroad - Lines Converging on Levi Coffin's House


Excerpts from: Chapter XI, "Newport in Anti-Slavery Times", Pg 165:

 "Siebert's "History of the Underground Railroad" contains a map with … lines indicating the routes traveled by the fugitive slaves.

Three lines converged at Levi Coffin's house (in Newport, IN). There was one from Cincinnati, one from Madison, Ind., and one from Jeffersonville, Ind. (As we’ll see later, Joel and James Haworth were active on these lines.)

"The roads were always in running order, the connections were always good, the conductors active and zealous, and there was no lack of passengers;" and almost every week brought some of them. A light tap at the door almost any time of night "was the signal announcing the arrival of a train of the Underground Railroad, for the locomotive did not whistle nor make any unnecessary noise." A train was made up of one or more of the covered wagons used in those days for traveling. Since there was a continuous stream of immigration from the South to the North, transportation in this way was very safe and easy. The number varied from two or three to seventeen.


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Levi Coffin House

"Aunt Katie, as they called Levi Coffin's wife, always got up and prepared food and beds for them, no matter what time of night is was. The Coffins continued this work all the time they lived at Newport, which was about twenty years. The annual average was more than 100. Generally, the fugitive slaves were destitute of clothing and often barefooted. Clothing had to be collected and money raised to buy shoes and to purchase goods to make clothing for the women and children. The length of time that the fugitive slaves remained at Newport depended upon the danger in which they were. If hotly pursued they were hurried on, and if not some remained two or three months."


Underground Railroad Backdrop

Levi Coffin House Bedroom

 This is a bedroom in the Levi Coffin House showing a potential hiding place.


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

}      James Haworth – (West Newton, Indiana; Father of Joel Haworth, Kansas)

}      Joel Haworth – Kansas

}      Mahlon S. Haworth - Iowa

Following are Ha(y)worth participants in the Underground Railroad that I could find records for. Much of the information that follows is located on the website.


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

}      George & Sarah (Scarborough), à James & Sarah (Wood),  à Richard & Ann à Joel Haworth & Elizabeth (Maxwell)

}      Born - April 17, 1986, Jefferson County, North Carolina (now Tennessee)

}      Married - April 11, 1811, Grassy Valley Meeting

}      Moved to Union County, Indiana

First, Joel Haworth of Wayne County, Indiana

Shown is his lineage from "George the Immigrant."

George & Sarah (Scarborough), à James & Sarah (Wood),  à Richard & Ann à Joel Haworth & Elizabeth (Maxwell)

( )

Joel Haworth was born April 17, 1786 on his parent's Haworth Bend Farm on the Holston River, Jefferson County, North Carolina (now Tennessee), approximately 25 miles above Knoxville, TN. (Note: Mahlon Haworth would be born there in 1840).)

He married Elizabeth Maxwell on April 11, 1811 in Grassy Valley Meetinghouse, Jefferson County, Tennessee.

"Joel Haworth moved from Tennessee to Union County, Indiana, and bought a large tract of government land at $1.25 per acre in gold… (eventually) he owned 1500 acres of land, 1000 acres of that land within Union County, Indiana."


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

Joel Haworth died December 04, 1854, in Salem, Union County, Indiana. Both he and his wife are buried at the Salem Friends Burying Ground near Cottage Grove, Union County, Indiana

"DIED-At his residence in Union Co., Indiana, on the 4th day of the 12th month, 1854, JOEL HAWORTH, of Flux and chronic affection of the bowels, aged 68 years, 7 months, and 16 days.
The deceased was confined to his bed in his last illness, three weeks. During a considerable portion of this time, his sufferings were very great, all of which was borne in much patience, calmness and Christian fortitude. He seemed to be strongly impressed from near the commencement of his sickness that he would not recover, of which he spoke during several interviews with his family, saying that he felt a calmness to cover his mind that was not usual. Though at times he thought he would like to live a while longer, that he might have been able to have been with his dear companion and friends in the attendance of religious meetings. He was an affectionate husband and tender father, and ever had a sympathetic feeling for suffering humanity of whatever complexion or clime. In his death the Religious Society of Friends has lost a devoted member, his family a guardian protector, and the community in which he had lived for more than a third of a century, a member whose place will be hard to fill."

[Source: A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918]


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

      ◦         "1884 Beers Atlas of Union County, Indiana," John Beard:  Fugitives conveyed to house of Joel Haworth

     ◦         Joel and Elizabeth present at meeting establishing Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends

At the Haworth Association website ( ), information from Mark Davis states that Joel and Elizabeth Haworth were "noted anti-slavery Friends" and that "Joel Haworth's house was one of the stations on the Underground Railroad." An excerpt on the life of John Beard from the 1884 Beers Atlas of Union County, Indiana, mentions this fact:
"He (John Beard) at one time assisted, with his father, in the escape of some fugitives, who had permission to attend a "quilting" at a point opposite the city of Cincinnati.  It had been previously planned that they were to be met at Cincinnati by the Beards, and conveyed to a place of safety until they could make good their escape.  John Beard met them at Cincinnati with a team, from whence he conveyed them to the house of Joel Haworth, in Union County, during the first night, and on the night following to the house of Levi Coffin, in Wayne County,  (who lived about 25 miles to the north)from which place they were sent to Canada.  This circumstance occurred about the year 1840, and the number of fugitives was nine."

Another source, ( ),  states: "A large body of Indiana Friends met at a convention of Friends at Newport, Wayne County, Indiana 2nd month 6th, 1843 (February 6th) for the purpose of establishing the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Anti-Slavery Friends "upon the true principles, and in accordance with the discipline and usages of the Society of Friends." This group of Quaker men and women were at odds with the larger body of Friends in Indiana over the issue of slavery. Anti-Slavery Friends were stanch abolitionists who actively worked for the immediate elimination of slavery, including taking an active part in the illegal and dangerous business of the Underground Railroad. Grandfather Joel Haworth and Grandmother Elizabeth (Maxwell) Haworth were present at that meeting and continued to devote themselves to Anti-Slavery Friends until the eventual reunification with the whole body of the Indiana Yearly Meeting of Friends in 1857."

"Joel Haworth offered his home as a station on the Underground Railroad for a number of years."


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

In Levi Coffin's 1876 book, "Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad," Joel Haworth's activity in giving safe harbor to runaway slaves on The Underground Railroad was noted in a chapter chronicling the escape of a woman named Ellen and her husband Louis. It states: "It was thought safer for Louis and Ellen to go out of the city (Cincinnati), and a few evenings afterward they were conveyed to the house of Joel Haworth, a well-known abolitionist, living in Union County, Indiana. Here they remained several weeks, awaiting results."


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      James Haworth – (West Newton, Indiana; Father of Joel Haworth (Kansas))

}      George & Sarah (Scarborough) à James & Sarah (Wood) à  James & Phebe (Thornburg)

}      1787 – Born  October 13th

}      1801 – Moved with parents to Ohio

}      1822 – Moved to Indiana

}      1824 – Moved to West Newton

}      Active in helping runaway slaves (Indiana Historical Society Publication, "The Underground Railroad.")

Next, James Haworth of West Newton, Indiana

Shown is his lineage from "George the Immigrant."

George & Sarah (Scarborough) à James & Sarah (Wood) à  James & Phebe (Thornburg)

 "James was born October 13, 1787 in Green County. "

"James was about 13 in 1801 when his parents left Tennessee and moved to Ohio, where he grew up, married, and started a family. "

 "In 1822, when James and his family moved to Indiana, James was about 35 and his son, Joel, was about 3. 

 "In 1824, James bought 160 acres near West Newton, Indiana and in 1826 he bought another 80 acres. He and Phebe lived here the rest of their lives."

During this time, James was active in helping runaway slaves as an article from the Indiana Historical Society Publication, the Underground Railroad, indicates:
"There was a party of 4 fugitives at James Hayworth's house nearby, and it was arranged that the next morning Levi Coffin would take one of them into his carriage and Hayworth would take three in his and they would all proceed north together. (Levi Coffin was President of the Underground Railroad)

( )


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      James Haworth – (Wayne County, Indiana)

James died in 1866.  He was 79 and is buried in Easton Friends Burial Ground in West Newton, Indiana next to Phebe.  This cemetery is located on Hayworth Road.


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (of Kansas)

}      George & Sarah (Scarborough) à James & Sarah (Wood) à  James & Phebe (Thornburg) à Joel Haworth/Sarah (McKee)

}      At age 3, moved with family from Ohio to Indiana

}      1841 – Married Sarah McKee

}      1850 – Moved to Washington County, Iowa

}      1854 – Moved to Lyon County, Kansas

Next, Joel Haworth of Kansas

Shown is his lineage from "George the Immigrant."

George & Sarah (Scarborough) à James & Sarah (Wood) à  James & Phebe (Thornburg) à Joel Haworth/Sarah (McKee)

Joel was born in Ohio and about the age of three moved with his family to Indiana.

He married Sarah McKee there in 1841.

They lived in Marion County, Indiana until 1850 when they moved to Washington County, Iowa, where Joel worked as a wagon maker.

The family moved to Lyon County, Kansas in 1854.


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Joel Haworth – (Kansas)


A book titled: Joel Haworth - Lyon County, Kansas Pioneer, Ancestors and Descendants 1699 to 1978", Compiled by Louise Rhodes Baker, Virginia Baker Schneider, and Aletha Pearl Thomas, was published May 1 1978. 

The book includes the following information:

Joel Haworth moved his family to Lyon County, Kansas in 1854 in a prairie schooner drawn by oxen. They lived in the wagon until a log home could be built. When the boys were old enough for school, Sarah lived with her parents in Tarkio, Atchison County, Missouri for a short time and placed the boys in school. Joel purchased machinery to set up a sawmill and returned to Kansas to set up the first sawmill in the county. In 1857, he secured machinery for a gristmill, and brought his family back to Kansas.  In 1858, Joel built a 12 x 12 foot slab school house in the corner of his yard. This was known as the Haworth School until 1863 when a larger school was built.

The following excerpt also comes from the book:

"An attempt was made about the last of December to kidnap a Negro named Charley, who lived with Joel Haworth, about seven miles west of Emporia, on the Cottonwood.  He was surprised by a loud mouthed fellow named Freeman, who lived near the junction, and a man who pretended to be his owner, but whose name is not given.  Soon the parties with whom Charley was hunting gave the alarm, and some neighbors came to the rescue.  After considerable parlaying the Negro hunters agreed to go to Mr. Haworth's house to allow Charley to exhibit his freedom papers.  While crossing the river in a canoe, Charley became invisible. After storming around awhile in regular slave-hunting style, Freeman and his friends left, threatening all kinds of vengeance on Mr. Haworth, including the burning of his mill."


Other References:

William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas
was first published in 1883 by A. T. Andreas, Chicago, IL


The Early History of Lyon County
by William G. Cutler (1883)


Ha(y)worth Participants

Wagon with False Bottom

"The next morning the Negro, dressed in a suit of women's clothes, was put in a wagon and started for Harvey's on Dragoon Creek, Osage County, the next underground station. He had been brought to Mr. Haworth's by Sam Wood.  He was in charge of W.T. Soden, and when they reached the Neosho crossing who should they run onto but Freeman and his brother watering their horses. The Negro was badly frightened, so much so that he shook the wagon. If Mr. Soden could have had his choice just at that time he would have been anywhere else than at the ford, because the Freeman's were both heavily armed. However, they did not molest the Negro or his friend, and they landed at their destination in safety, and some Missouri slave owner lost a valuable piece of property."


Other Information:

"The Mendenhall Plantation in Jamestown has no direct connection to the Underground Railroad, or at least none that has been documented (so far). What it does have is a real treasure--the "Slave Wagon," the provenance of which embodies the tenuous nature of all Underground Railroad lore."

"The late Cecil E. Haworth, a retired Quaker minister, was instrumental in overseeing the safe passage of this old wagon with a false bottom from the barn on the farm of Stacey and Ruth Hockett of Pleasant Garden to the barn on the Mendenhall Plantation. It was a gift to the society from Joshua Edgar Murrow Sr., and had been preserved and cared for by five generations of Murrow and Stanley (and other) families of the Centre Friends Meeting area. Cecil’s son, Howard Haworth of Morganton, underwrote the cost of the renovation of the wagon and related expenses."


This is a picture of the large house that Joel built on his farm overlooking the Cottonwood Valley using the native lumber sawed at his sawmill. 


The Haworth House on the Hill was a haven to escaping Negro slaves. In an upstairs attic bedroom behind built-in cupboards were spaces with ample room for a person to hide.

Hiding space in built-in cupboard.


Grave stones of Elizabeth and Joel Haworth (1819-1893)

Joel was born in 1819 and died on August 13, 1883, at the age of 63.

Joel was buried in the Haworth Cemetery in Emporia, KS, which is on land he presented to the public for burial.


Ha(y)worth Participants

}      Mahlon S. Haworth

}      George/Sarah (Scarborough) à James/Sarah (Wood) à George H./Susannah (Dillon) à John B. à Mahlon S Haworth/Mary Hockett

Finally, Mahlon S. Haworth of Kansas

Shown is his lineage from “George the Immigrant.”

George/Sarah (Scarborough) à James/Sarah (Wood) à George H./Susannah (Dillon) à John B. à Mahlon S Haworth/Mary Hockett

Indianola, Iowa


Date line: George Shane, Des Moines Sunday Register, August 4, 1929

"Upper picture represents the Mahlon Hayworth house as it was when used for an Underground Railroad station.  The lower drawing is a diagram showing secret cellar arrangement.  Slaves would enter room marked A and climb down ladder to subterranean chamber labeled C, where they would hide with minimum danger of discovery.  Section of basement marked D is walled off from other portion, with no connection except a tunnel between the partitions.  The tunnel provided a second exit in case raiders were to find the upper trap door and come down the ladder.  Entering the tunnel in the hollow partitions, which extended around part of cellar marked D, the slaves could make a getaway through an exit on the opposite side of the building.  Room labeled B "was the Hayworth parlor."  

"These pictures were sketched by George Shane, writer of the accompanying story.  Des Moines Sunday Register, August 4, 1929, titled “Find Secret Tunnels in Indianola House," and transcribed on the Haworth Association website by Ron Haworth, nicely summarizes the experiences and dangers of life as an activist on the Underground Railroad…

George Shane, Des Moines Sunday Register, August 4, 1929

The article is on the website, thanks to the transcribing work of Ron Haworth.

Title: Find Secret Tunnels in Indianola House

Sub title: Slaves Hid there in days of the Underground Railway

Date line: George Shane, Des Moines Sunday Register, August 4, 1929

"A house in Indianola, once one of the most important links in the Underground Railroad system, was torn down last week in order that the world may have another filling station. Where bright and shinny red gasoline pumps soon will be erected for the benefit of tourists who drive along this elm shaded bit of the Jefferson highway, Mahlon Hayworth, a Quaker and advocate of liberty, built the dwelling seventy-one years ago.

Facts Are Few

"There are obscure legends in Indianola about the house; but facts are not numerous. It is established, however, that fugitive slaves were hidden there when pursuit from the south grew warm. This Quaker residence was a vital point in the southern branch of the Underground Railroad. Mahlon Hayworth was an avowed abolitionist; he was willing to speak freely on the impositions of slavery, but his activities in abating the system he believed evil were affairs he declined to mention in conversation. Were his acts known, he could have been sent to prison for six months and fined $1,000 under the federal fugitive slave law.

Trap Door Hidden

"The house was constructed to aid him in carrying out his beliefs. The basement was divided into two compartments-one of them a secret chamber. Runaway Negroes, bound for Canada, found shelter in the underground room. Entrance was made through a trap door. The opening was hidden by rugs on the floor above. No pursuing federal officer would have suspected the hiding place of slaves-in fact, from the outside, the rear part of the dwelling that covered the room seemed to have no basement.

Negroes Easily Pleased

"At night a wagon would arrive from Winterset and a few dark figures would enter the house. Hayworth would lead his fugitive guests to the kitchen, open the trap door, and help them down a ladder to the room below. There the escaping slaves found a neat chamber with plastered walls, chairs and beds. The place was no more than sixteen or eighteen feet long and a dozen feet wide. But cramped quarters did not trouble the Negroes. They were in one of the most carefully designed Underground Railroad stations on the route from the south to Canada and detection was a negligible danger.

Much Hidden History

"This much is known of Hayworth's abolitionist activities. A far greater amount of slave running history has died with him and his brother Quakers. The stations southwest of Indianola on this particular line were Winterset, Lewis, Tabor and Percival. Where the fugitives were taken for the next stop after they climbed out of the subterranean room is unknown. It is possible that the next station on the route was at Des Moines or Grinnell, but there are no records to tell.

Remains a Mystery

"And Hayworth and his friends did their worst for the southerners. They kept no schedules of arrivals and departures. The trail north from Indianola was their secret, and it still remains a mystery. Object lessons had taught Hayworth that precautions were necessary. He built his house so that every protection was available. Leading from the secret chamber was one exit in addition to the trap door. It was a tunnel running through a double wall in the other part of the cellar. This exit had been arranged to allow the fugitives a means of escape should slave chasers or federal officers find the upper trap door and climb down the ladder. Few stations in Iowa were so cleverly arranged for hiding and escape. This was the reason; possibly, that Hayworth’s dwelling never yielded a capture to raiders.

Buildings Ransacked

"Often the homes of other abolitionists were turned topsy-turvy by raiding officers. Farm buildings were ransacked, Negroes were arrested and searches conducted without warrants or proper information. One historian in writing of such events said "federal marshals empowered by congress to enter Free states and seize slaves and the activities of federal agents, embittered men. Citizens were tired of compromising and became abolitionists."

Like Modern Bootleggers.

"Congregationalists and Methodists were inclined to sympathize with the Negro's cause and joined the Quakers in the operation of the Underground Railroad. None of these faiths was safe from raids. Their homes were searched at all hours of the night. Frequently it was proved that the slave hunting officers were intoxicated at the time of their ransacking. Those who aided the Negro in escaping often had no more approval than the bootlegger of today. When the question was debated it was insisted that the abolitionists should respect the law though they did not believe in it. It was the will of the majority, it was said. But the slave sympathizers argued in the name of personal liberty and continued to aid the Negro in his attempt to reach Canada.

Risked Suffocation

"Hayworth, to be sure, escaped detection but one of his brother Quakers, Benjamin Henshaw, received a violent visit from the slave raiders. A group of officers had heard slaves were in hiding on the Henshaw farm, a mile east of Indianola. The officers rode out to the farm and demanded that Henshaw turn over the fugitives. The Quaker denied knowledge of runaway slaves and went about his work peacefully. The house and farm buildings were searched. Everything on the place where a human might be in hiding was pulled apart. But no slaves were found. When the raiders departed, Henshaw scooped seed corn from three barrels and helped three Negroes out. The fugitives had been willing to risk suffocation in order to escape.

"Disrespect for Laws"

"Such incidents were not uncommon near Indianola. From time to time the penalties were made more severe. Those who encouraged as well as those who aided a slave to run away from his master were liable to punishment. But abolitionists increased in numbers and invariably there was someone willing to warn of impending raids. A southern congressman lamented, saying that disrespect for law increased though the penalties became more drastic. A northern member of the legislature insisted that the illegal activities of the Underground Railroad were grossly misrepresented and, in reality, the fugitive slave law was respected.

The Rebellion Began

"The debate over the prohibition of aiding escaping slaves became intense and as the abolitionist sentiment grew, Underground Railroad stations in Iowa increased. John Brown, with twelve slaves, had made his famous trip safely from Tabor through Iowa on the way to Chicago. The rebellion began and the secret basement in the house at Indianola was destined to be no longer a hiding place of fugitives but for seventy-one years a cellar where jellies, jams, fruits and potatoes were stored. End of transcription."



Ha(y)worth Participants

}      What was the Underground Railroad?

}      Background of the Underground Railroad

}      Ha(y)worth Participants on the Underground Railroad

In summary, The Underground Railroad was a clandestine system for transporting escaped slaves out of slave states.

Its origins grew from a paradigm shift of attitudes regarding slaves and slavery that were tested for many years in the executive, legislative and judicial systems of the United States government. Eventually, ordinary citizens, Quakers and others, drawn to action by the conviction of their beliefs, took matters into their own hands to struggle against slavery.        

Participation in The Underground Railroad was a dangerous, rebellious and illegal activity, and our Ha(y)worth ancestors were in the thick of it.

Thank You!

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