Conductor of the Underground Railroad
On October 28, 1798, Levi Coffin, the famous anti-slavery leader and reputed “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, was born in the Guilford County Quaker community of New Garden.
He joined the Quakers of New Garden in 1818, and began a Sunday school in the schoolhouse adjoining the meeting house. With his cousin, Vestal Coffin, he began a school for slaves, teaching them about Christianity and hosting Bible readings. Slave owners forbade their slaves to attend, and within a few years Coffin moved to Newport, Indiana.
Newport, now known as Fountain City, was along a route of the Underground Railroad, through which slaves escaping to freedom passed. Coffin and his wife made their house a station to shelter runaways and provide safe passage into Canada. The couple ended up helping roughly 2,000 slaves escape to safety, with each one reaching freedom. To learn more, visit bit.ly/levicoffin
- Edenton and Halifax are among the North Carolina towns with historic connections to the Underground Railroad. Visit bit.ly/AAHalifax, and visitedenton.com (click on “Maritime Underground Railroad” and “The Life of Harriet Jacobs”).
- Mendenhall Plantation in Jamestown has one of two existing false-bottom wagons used to transport runaway slaves. 336-454-3819 or mendenhallplantation.org
- Dismal Swamp State Park near South Mills served as shelter for many runaway slaves seeking freedom. Some stayed only briefly to rest before finding passage north. Others created “maroon colonies” on areas of higher ground and lived out the rest of their lives there. Researchers believe the Dismal Swamp may have been home to the largest maroon colony on record. 252-771-6593 or ncparks.gov