As a youth, I was told that my grandfather’s house, The Latta stone house, was part of the Underground Railroad. This blog started because of the research I was doing regarding the house (in Washington County, Pennsylvania) to determine if it was fact or just family lore.

I learned about the Underground Railroad as a youth in Ohio, a northern, “free” state. I believed (or was taught?) thousands, if not most of the runaway slaves, escaped via the Underground Railroad; that the “free” states were anti-slavery and most whites helped the fugitive slaves. I believed that you were either for slavery or against it. No middle ground. A “sanitized” version of history. After this research, many of my original thoughts on the Underground Railroad and the people involved have dramatically changed.

This blog is a master’s thesis reflecting upon this journey which started with a family lore at my grandfather’s house. I broadened the geographic focus of my research to cross the Monongahela River into Fayette County which, with parts of Washington County, is considered the Monongahela Valley area. This blog offers written and visual reflections on the people I encountered, the places I traveled, and the lessons I learned. Relevant literature, archival research and interviews with historians helped to frame the original reflections and photographs I share on this site.

This blog, starting with researching the family lore takes the reader through my research process and the discoveries I made on how issues raised with the Underground Railroad still relate to race issues more than 150 years later.

Pennsylvania 1845

Image: http://www.bergbook.com/htdocs/woda/data/demo/images/19685-02.jpg


ACLU. “Rev. James Lawson, Jr., Renowned Civil Rights Leader, to Chair ACLU’s National Advisory Council 2006.” May 4, 2006, accessed January 18, 2011. http://www.aclu.org/organization-news-and-highlights/rev-james-lawson-jr-renowned-civil-rights-leader-chair-aclus-nation.

Allen County Public Library. Fort Wayne, IN http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/.

Anderson, Tracey. Interviewed by author at Indiana University South Bend. October 13, 2009.

Archibol, Randal. “Arizona Enacts Stringent Law on Immigration.” The New York Times. April 23, 2010, accessed October 7, 2010.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/24/us/politics/24immig.html.

Blight, David, ed., Passages to Freedom: the Underground Railroad in history and memory. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute, 2004.

Bordewich, Fergus M. Bound for Canaan. The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2005.
“History’s Tangled Threads.” NY Times Opinion Page. New York Times. February 2, 2007, accessed March 27, 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/02/opinion/02bordewich.html?_r=2&e%20x=1171083600&en=2cf8369299cdf9e2&ei=5070&emc=eta1.

Brackman, Barbara. Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery. Concord, CA: C&T Publishing, 2006.
—“ Barbara Brackman, Author and Quilt Historian.” accessed March 27, 2011. http://www.barbarabrackman.com/index.aspx

Burns, Eleanor and Sue Bouchard. Underground Railroad Sampler. San Marcos, CA: Quilt in a Day,  2003.

California Area Historical Society, The Gallagher House California, Pennsylvania 15419.

The Century Inn. accessed September 22, 2009. http://www.centuryinn.com/.

Charleroi Historical Society, Charleroi, PA 15022.

Clinton, Catherine. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom. New York, N.Y Little, Brown, 2004.

Crumrine, Boyd. History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men. Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882. Accessed February 18, 2011. http://www.chartiers.com/crumrine/twp-wpikerun.html.

Department of Commerce. Census of Population and Housing, 1810. Washington, DC: Bureau of the Census, 1810.

Dodson, Howard. “The Abolition of the Slave Trade: The Forgotten Story.” New York Public Library. accessed November 29, 2010. http://abolition.nypl.org/.

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. New York:  Dover Publications, 1995.

Driessen, Kris. “Putting it in Perspective: The Symbolism of Underground Railroad Quilts.” accessed March 3, 2011. http://www.quilthistory.com/ugrrquilts.htm.

Fayette County Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, Uniontown, Pennsylvania .

Finkelman, Paul. “Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves.” Schlager Group. accessed November 29, 2010. http://www.milestonedocuments.com/documents/view/act-to-prohibit-the-importation-of-slaves.

Folmar, John Kent. Gleanings from Pittsburgh & W. Pa.: newspaper, &c, views, 1786-1886. California, PA: Yohogania Press, 2006.

Glasco, Laurence A. The WPA History of the Negro in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.

Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine and Stanley Harrold. The African-American Odyssey. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Herron, Mary. “Latta Stone House Is Most Perfect Virginia Type Mansion In The Area,” The Washington Observer, October 29, 1937.

Horn, W. F. ed., The Horn Papers: Early Western Movement on the Monongahela and Upper Ohio, 1765-1795, 3 vols. New York, NY: Hagstrom Co., 1945.

Job Johnson Hotel. Image. From California Area Historical Society. October 15, 2010.

Johnson, Hannibal Augustus.  The sword of honor from captivity to freedom. The Blanchari Press  Worcester, MA 1906. http://books.google.com/books?id=OrAzON4kFrQC&ots=UG3B4KmXsz&dq=Johnson%2C%20Hannibal%20Augustus&pg=PA102#v=twopage&q&f=false

Levine, Robert S. Martin R. Delaney, A Documentary Reader. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

Levins, Hoag. Photographer “[Giles Wright, Jr.]” Photograph. Camden County Historical Society, Camden, NJ. June 4, 2001, accessed March 27, 2011. http://www.historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews11_doc_01a.shtml.

Liberty on the Border. Viewed November 9, 2010. Center for History, South Bend, Indiana. http://www.centerforhistory.org/see-and-do/current-exhibits/liberty-on-the-border-a-civil-war-exhibit.html.

Love, O.S. “The Underground Railroad of California, PA and Vicinity.” Senior thesis, State Normal School (now California University of Pennsylvania) California, PA. 1900.

MacInnes, Sharon, and Angus MacInnes. Early Landowners of PA: Atlas of Twp. Warrantee Maps of Washington Co., PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 2004.

Mainwaring, Thomas. “Abandoned Tracks, The Underground Railroad in Washington County, Pennsylvania.” unpublished document, Washington Jefferson College. Washington, PA, 2010.

McGowan, James A. Station master on the Underground Railroad: the life and letters of Thomas Garrett. Jefferson, N.C McFarland & Company, 2005, accessed October 29, 2010.

McRae, Jr., Bennie J. “Delaney Monument Dedication.” March 31, 2004, accessed
April 6, 2011. http://www.bjmjr.net/delany/home.htm.

Newton, John. Constitution Society. accessed November 29, 2010. http://www.constitution.org/col/amazing_grace.htm.

Ogaldez, Joshua. “Reverend Lawson: Another World is Possible.” Yahoo! Contributor Network, October 16, 2010, accessed January 18, 2011. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5883326/reverend_lawsonanother_world_is_possible.html?cat=75.

Penn, Irvine Garland, The Afro-American Press and Its Editors. Springfield, MA: Willey & Co., 1891. Accessed March 27, 2011. http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/25023?size=preview.

Rankin House. Ohio History Central. accessed January3, 2011. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=3098

Redfield, Beryl. “Latta Genealogy.” September 3, 2009, accessed September 12, 2009. www.latta.org.

The Schaumberg Center for Research in Black Culture. “The Abolition of the Slave Trade.” Introduction. Accessed November 29, 2010. http://abolition.nypl.org/home/.

“Secret Codes of the Underground Railroad.” Obtained from the Washington County Historical Society, September 23, 2009.

Senator John Heinz History Center1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

Siebert, Wilbur H. The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom: A Comprehensive History. Mineola, N.Y Dover Publications, 2006.

Slater, Jan. Telephone interview by author, November 12, 2009.

Stakeley, Robert. Heinz History Center. Telephone interview by author. September 18, 2009.

Stewart, Al, and Peter White. “Time Passages.” New York: Dick James Music, Inc., 1978. accessed February 18, 2011. http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/a/al_stewart/time_passages.html.

Still, William, and Ian Frederick Finseth. The Underground Railroad: Authentic Narratives and First-Hand Accounts. Mineola, N.Y Dover Publications, 2007.

Surkam, Jim. To Be More Than Equal – The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany. West Virginia Humanities Council and the George Washington Carver Institute. accessed April 6, 2011. http://www.libraries.wvu.edu/delany/home.htm.

Still, William J., Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania. Mechanicsburgh, PA Stackpole Books, 2001.

Taylor, Frances C. The Trackless Trail Leads On. “On The Underground Railroad.” Privately published, 1995.

Tobin, Jacqueline L. and Raymond G. Dobard.  Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. New York, N.Y First Anchor Books, 2000.

Turner, Edward Raymond. The Negro in Pennsylvania 1639-1861. Washington DC. 1911. http://www.slavenorth.com/fugitive.htm.

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Westmoreland, Carl. Interviewed by author October 18, 2009.

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“Wintley Phipps and Amazing Grace” [Video]. January 4, 2007, accessed November 27, 2010, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMF_24cQqT0.

Wright, Jr., Giles. CRITIQUE: Hidden in Plain View: The Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad. Ed. Hoag Levins. Historic Camden County, 2001. accessed March 27,  2011. http://www.historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews11_doc_01a.shtml.

Published on September 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Lou,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story that is about to be created by you. I encourage you to continue and it is nice to know what you are doing.


  2. Lou,

    This project is very exciting to me as I am researching in Southwestern Pennsylvania. I am happy to discover that you are doing the research that others have not attempted because it was much easier just to say that a site was a stop or that a person was conductor on the Underground Railroad. The trouble is that if one person or a group of people say it often enough it is mistaken for fact. Thank you for taking the harder path.

    I will be following your blog with great interest.

    Jan Slater
    Researching Slavery, Free Persons of Color and the Underground Railroad in Greene County and Southwestern Pennsylvania.

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