THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD
Edited by Robert Stull
John S. Mattox – Curator
The Underground Railroad Museum – Flushing, Ohio
History has not been kind to the Black Culture; we all need to work together. His Culture was included in the construction of the country. There is something good about everyone and the period of time of slavery was the law of the land in which people had the right to own slaves. During slavery days the towns of Wheeling West Virginia and Marietta, Ohio on a Saturday morning you could hear the slaves being sold on the auction block. The Ohio River which was called River Jordan could be navigated by walking across.
George Washington a surveyor and plantation owner with one-hundred twenty three slaves married Martha who owned two-hundred slaves. Their marriage produced
no children. Black people got their names from famous people, places and things. When soldiers came back from fighting the War of 1812 word spread that a place called Canada with a Fugitive Slave law – 1800-1865 – where slaves could be free, no slavery.
This is to be understood, it was not the white people who sold the Blacks into slavery, but the Blacks put their own people up for sale as slaves. In West Africa they had slave pens and their own people put them in bondage. The ships which were anchored off shore, the Portuguese sailors would not leave their ships to come on land. The slaves were marched down in yokes and chains and put on the armored ships. They were shackled and laid side by side and took what was called the middle passage. The voyage took six months. Some of the slaves went to America, Barbados, Cuba and the Caribbean. Each Captain and Sailor had what was called a “belly-warmer”, the services of a slave woman called a breeder. This could mean there was black blood in most Americans.
The law of the land was you had the right to own people. The slaves were lashed one hundred times with a cat-of-nine tales and salt was put in the wounds so you could realize you were property. The Quakers assisted in the Underground Railroad. Slaves knew if they were on the run they would get in the water and the blood hounds would loose their scent. Onions and pepper could also be used on the bottom of the feet. Tavern owners who owned slaves put slave collars with a name on.
The long trek on foot from Marietta, Ohio to Ontario, Canada was nine hundred and fifty miles. To travel they wore one set of clothes, a bag over their shoulder contained nuts, fruit and corn in a bag, and no shoes. The trip was not easy but they were in search and wanted liberty. Black people were moved to different locations so the Southern Gentlemen who owned plantations could out vote the northerners to keep slavery alive – 1836.
On the trip north a safe house could be identified by a statue of a Jockey out front and if the lantern was lit with a bandanna on his right arm this was a house of freedom. A special knock on the door could also gain access. The Quakers used this special verse from the Bible: Deuteronomy 23:15 “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee” or would tell the slave hunters nothing.
They say that the blacks have rhythm, if you had been on the slave ships and had to lay side by side in the ship for weeks and months, when they would bring them up on decks and use the cat-of-nine tails, you would get the kinks out of your legs too!
The slaves on the plantation worked six days of the week and off one day, Sunday. That’s the day they would start their trip on the Underground Railroad because the owners would not find out they were gone until Monday. They would follow the North Star from plantations in Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana.
John Brown who was for the slaves was hung. Also a safe house may have a small lantern or candle in a upper window or a quilt over the line that had crosses sewn on it. If a slave was caught running away he was hung up with a meat hook and his stomach cut open to show this is what would happen if you ran away.
Many modes of transportation would be used including a covered wagon or a train after they were introduced in 1849. A Quaker house with two chimneys on one side would be a secret hiding place or behind a water wheel. They never would walk into a safe house but ride on an agents shoulders as the foot prints could be picked up by the hound dogs. Most stops were three to five miles apart. The number known to be coming would be if you saw a vase in a high window with say five roses in it, that was how many were coming at the next stop.
A iron for ironing clothes had a bell attached to it and when Manny worked in the big house on the plantation and while she ironed and the bell would ring they knew she was not running away.
When the slaves were in bondage, Thomas Jefferson had the use of their women, even the fourteen year olds (Proven today by the use of DNA).
The light skinned Blacks got the opportunity to work in the big house and the dark skinned Blacks had to work in the fields.
If someone says a certain house was a safe house on the Underground Railroad and it was built after 1865 it probably would not be true.
Shaking hands in government started with Thomas Jefferson.
George Washington did not have wooden teeth, they were made out of the teeth of a hippo, he didn’t throw a silver dollar over the Potomac and he did not chop down a cherry tree.
The Blacks did not have the skills as other people after the war so creating share-cropping occurred.
There is still prejudice among the Black culture. Malcom X and Martin Luther King did not get along at all. Cab Callaway was very light and shunned Blacks. The Blacks need a role model and this should be your mother and father.
The young Blacks wear ear rings in their ears, nose and have tattoo’s all around. I can’t understand this as the plantation owners used to mark their cattle that way to identify them.
We are making progress by everyone learning to live together.