Monroe County Timeline

Events Matching Exact Phrase "Underground Railroad"

Smith builds his home
1828
Thomas Smith, prominent Presbyterian, builds his home at 1326 Pickwick Place. His home is used to help slaves escape north as part of the Underground Railroad network.
Source: Rose McIlveen, "Looking Back: Underground railroad stopped in Bloomington," Bloomington Herald-Telephone & Bedford Times-Mail, October 3, 1981. more... map
Rev. McMillan writes to Woodburn
1837, Jun 1
Covenanter and Presbyterian minister Rev. Hugh McMillan writes to Dorrance Woodburn of Bloomington about his pleasure in learning that T.A. Wylie arrived to teach at Indiana Seminary. "I am glad he will answer the double purpose of serving the college and of ministering to the wants of the people." McMillan and Woodburn were supporters of the Underground Railroad.
Source: James Albert Woodburn, Woodburn History: Some Generations of a Family (1936), 52.
Millen buys land
1839
William Millen buys land in Bloomington Township, Section 34, and later builds a house. It is known as the Millen/Stallknecht House or Raintree House, 112 N. Bryan Street, and is later sold to Indiana University. He pays $1,600 for 160 acres. Millen came to Bloomington with other Covenanters. Some oral histories argue the house was used as part of the Underground Railroad system. Millen was a saw mill partner of William Fee, who was also from South Carolina.
Source: Rose McIlveen, "Looking Back: Millen House "Guests" Varied," Herald Telephone, June 6, 1981. map
Faris builds a home
1842
Rev. James Faris or "Old Man Faris" builds his home at 2001 Hillside Drive. Born in South Carolina in 1779, the Reformed Presbyterian comes as a Covenanter. It is believed that the home was used to help slaves navigate the Underground Railroad.
Source: Paul Donald Faris, House Built on the Rock: Faris Genealogy (1973), iii. more... map
Hawkins marries barber's daughter
1850, Dec 8
Mr. Smith Hawkins, a black man from Washington, Indiana, marries the daughter of Knolly Baker, Bloomington's first black barber. According to Monroe County Marriage Indices, the bride's name is Sarah Ann Baker. Mr. Hawkins helped Thomas Smith run the Underground Railroad network in Monroe County, as he escorted slaves on their way north.
Source: Henry Lester Smith, Ph.D., "The Underground Railroad in Monroe County," Indiana magazine of history, September 1, 1917, 291.
Willis Tyler is born
1879
Black attorney and competitive oratorical debater Willis O. Tyler is born in Bloomington. After his parents - Isaac Tyler and Mary McCaw - die when he is young, he is raised by his grandmother and former Underground Railroad conductor, Hannah McCaw. He later attends Indiana University. [Image source IU Arbutus Yearbook, 1902.]
Source: "Oratorical Contest: Mr. Willis O. Tyler Represented The Indiana University," Indianapolis Recorder, February 9, 1901. more...
Rev. McClerkin marries Ewing girl
1881, Apr 5
Reverend J. J. McClerkin marries Louiza J. Ewing in Monroe County. Rev. McClerkin was active in supporting the Underground Railroad both in Monroe County and in Salem, IN, where he also worked with Isaac Reed. Reed was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and, according to Henry Lester Smith's 1917 article from the Indiana Magazine of History, helped transport slaves into Bloomington. Louiza is the daughter of Reformed Presbyterians Robert and Ann Ewing, who were from South Carolina.
Source: Monroe County, Indiana Marriages: 1818 -1881, 2nd Edition, Reindexed by Lee Ehman (Bloomington (Ind.): Monroe County Historical Society, 2016)
Gordon runs for office
1884, Jul 30
Samuel Gordon, a long time Republican, announces his candidacy for representative. The "Republican Progress" reminds its readers that he claims to have been a conductor on the Underground Railroad, a secret network to help slaves escape. [Map image from 1856 plat map showing Gordon's property in Perry Township Section 16.]
Source: "Samuel Gordon, Past Underground Railroad Conductor, Now a Political Candidate," Republican Progress, July 30, 1884. map
Samuel Gordon dies
1887, Apr 5
Samuel Gordon, one time Republican candidate for representative, passes away from "lung fever." During the 1884 campaign he claimed to be a conductor on the Underground Railroad, which was a transportation network of secret "stations" that would protect slaves escaping.
Source: "Samuel Gordon," Bloomington Telephone, April 5, 1887.
Blair dies
1908, Mar 27
John Blair dies at the age of 88. His obituary celebrates his remarkable life as "a constant helper and contributor to the community's development". From Scotch-Irish heritage, he was known to be a farmer and conductor for the Underground Railroad, active with the early Presbyterians or Covenanters.
Source: James A. Woodburn, "John Blair (1819-1908) Life of a Remarkable Man; a Page of Monroe County History," Bloomington Telephone, March 27, 1908, 1.
Memories of Redick Wylie Farm recorded
1915
The McElhinney family moves into the Redick "Dick" Wylie House on South Walnut Street. The family learns about the house's oral history that the large basement served as a station for the Underground Railroad with one room having two chimney flues: one for a furnace and the other for air circulation. The family rents the "Hundred Acre Farm" and maintains it as a dairy farm.
Source: E. Herold, A Bloomington Childhood 1915-1930: Recollections of George Wishart McElhinney, Jr. (Bloomington, Ind.: Wylie House, 1993), 2. more... map
Smith writes about Underground Railroad
1917
IU Dean of Education and Bloomington native Henry Lester Smith writes about the Underground Railroad in Monroe County, using oral history provided by his family. Smith writes that the following individuals were supportive of the cause to help slaves from 1845-1860: Thomas Smith, James Clark, Rev. J.B. Faris, John Blair, Samuel Gordon, Samuel Curry, William Curry, Robert Ewing, John Russell, D.S. Irwin, W. C. Smith, T.N. Faris, Austin Seward, and John Hite. Many were affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
Source: "The Underground Railroad in Monroe County," Indiana magazine of history, September 1, 1917. more...
Historical sites marked by WPA
1938, Sep 2
It is reported that the WPA historical marker project is set to install 13 of 14 painted-metal signs to highlight historical places, incl. the Female Seminary and the home of Aunt Myrears, a stop on the Underground Railroad, which helped slaves escape. Coordinating the project are Estella Dodson and Ross F. Lockridge, Indiana historian and former state director of the WPA Federal Writer's project. Photo of Ross Lockridge, Sr. courtesy of IU Archives.
Source: "Historical Sites are Marked," Bloomington Telephone, September 2, 1938, 1. more...
WPA set to place historical markers
1938, Sep 2
It is reported that the WPA is set to install 13 historical markers. The painted-metal signs will promote sites such as the location of the Seward Foundry and the home of Aunty Myrears, which was a stop for slaves on the Underground Railroad. Estella Dodson and Ross F. Lockridge, Indiana historian and former director for the WPA Federal Writer’s project, coordinate the project.
Source: "Historical Sites are Marked," Bloomington Daily Telephone, September 2, 1938, 1.
Woodburn gives book to library
1939, Oct 18
James Albert Woodburn gives a copy of his book "Woodburn History: Some Generations of a Family" to the Bloomington Public Library with the inscription, "Presented to the Bloomington City Library, by the Author." The book includes transcripts of family letters, diaries, and antidotes, including references to the early schools, churches, and the Underground Railroad.
Source: James Albert Woodburn, Woodburn History: Some Generations of a Family (1936) more...
Pioneer black resident buried
1942, Apr 13
Amanda Henson Ghan, age 83, dies at her home at 1020 W. Kirkwood Avenue. Her obituary tells of her parents struggle to escape with young Amanda and others from a Shelbyville, Kentucky plantation about 1860, hustling through Clark County using the Underground Railroad before settling in Hensonburg and later Ellettsville.
Source: "Pioneer Negro Resident Laid to Rest Here," Bloomington Daily Telephone, April 15, 1942. map
Smith descendant dies
1959, Aug 8
Lola Jane Smith dies. Miss Smith was the sister of Henry Lester Smith and part of the early Smith family affiliated with the Underground Railroad. She was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church and lived at 314 N. Washington. A 1901 graduate of IU, Smith also obtained higher degrees and was a primary school teacher here for 51 years. [Image from 1901 IU Arbutus Yearbook.]
Source: "Obituary: Lola Jane Smith," Herald Telephone, August 8, 1959. map
Historian Woodburn gives speech
1961, Mar 2
Historian Walter Woodburn gives a speech about the Underground Railroad, an escape route for slaves, at the Binford Junior High School. The speech was given to an audience of 175 people. Most of the audience was made up of the members of the Monroe County Historical Society as well as members of the Monroe County Civil War Centennial Committee.
Source: Unknown, March 9, 1961.

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