Rev. William King (1812 -1895)

     The King Family settled in Northwest Ohio south of Delta Ohio in 1834 on Section 24. William King went down to Louisiana where he met and married Mary Phares who died leaving him 15 slaves.


     In 1849, he brought 15 U.S. slaves to Canada where they received their freedom. With the strength of his convictions, unmitigating determination and political connections, he established the Elgin Settlement. Reverend King's methodical structuring of the community enabled former slaves to become self-sufficient land owners and successful business people.


Click here to see list of 15 slaves


Prof. Wilbur H. Siebert states that Free Presbyterians “Are found to be stations of the underground of the Underground Railroad almost without exception.”  The King family was staunch Presbyterian, and their son Reverend William King was a clergyman of the Free Presbyterian Church.  They were active in the work of the Underground Railroad lines that passed through this section of Ohio.  The concentration of the story has been overshadowed by the telling of Reverend King’s  activities and his establishment of the Buxton Settlement in Canada.


     “There is no question about the validity of the work of the King family’s station in York Township,” says Ms. Genevieve Eicher, the underground’s premiere scholar in northwest Ohio,  whose families ran underground lines to the King station.  Extended families on the King farm include the John King’s, Donahues and the Bruce clans.


      The King-Bruce family intermarried with the legendary Howard-McClarren family whose exploits in rescuing fugitive slaves were of epic proportions. Professor Siebert characterizes the Edward and Colonel Dresden W. H. Howard line of the underground as “probably the oldest in Ohio.” They established  an Indian trading post on the Maumee River and one north of the King station at their camp in Historic Winameg, that was then in Michigan Territory.

      Today the majority of the land in section 24 of York Township, Fulton County is owned by John & Betty Trowbridge. The old King homestead no longer stands where it once did on the east end of this section. Only the King Family Cemetery remains.  John & Betty current home is more in the center of the property and part of the old barn behind their home has been dated to a period before 1850 and does show evidence that it was moved to its current location from another.  Is the older structure of this barn from the original King barn?  This is a question we may never know for sure....

Here are couple of  photos of the Trowbridge Farm



Delta, Fulton County Ohio

     The network to Freedom has officially verified the King Family Cemetery as an Underground Railroad Site.  All of the

other entities have recognized the entire King farm (Section 24, York Township, South Delta, Ohio).  They include the

Ohio Historical Society; Fulton County Historical Society; Fulton County Chapter Ohio Genealogical Society; York Township Trustees; Buxton National Historic Site; Afro-Louisiana historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.; The Friends of Freedom Society, Inc.; Ohio Underground Railroad Association.  The Free Church of Scotland has given permission to engrave their name on the marker. Reverend William King was an ordained clergyman of the Free Church of Scotland and the youngest

son of this King family settling in Delta, Ohio. 

      Verification of thee King Farm, Section 24, York Township, Fulton County, Ohio as an Underground Railroad Station is verified in many documents, books, scholarly articles/journals and local histories.  One  of the chief books, Look to the North Star: A Life of William King, by Victor Ullman, published by the Beacon Press, is widely referred to by historians and scholars in the Underground Railroad field, such as Robin Winks of Yale and William & Jane Pease.  The list of testimonials of Ullman’s history is seen in the citations in many bibliographies of other authors.


      In Look to the North Star Ullman chronicles the  1,500 mile journey from Bayou Sara in Louisiana to Cincinnati, Ohio of Reverend William King’s fifteen slaves. When they arrived at the King farm in Delta, Ohio in 1848 it stated: “They were not yet free because they had not crossed the ‘line’, but the King men would protect them from slave stealers, having had a  good deal of experience in such activities.  The King farm by then was the area’s Underground Railroad Station on the overland route to the woods that bordered the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair, across from Canada West.”  (Fugitive Slaves Laws allowed slave hunters to capture runaways in free states such as Ohio.)   Reverend William King established the Buxton/Elgin Settlement on Clergy Reserve Lands in Canada in November 1849 just before the ‘Black Laws’ were instituted in the United States.



     The book, Something to Hope For, published in 1999 by Buxton National Historic Site and Museum, states: “The slaves trusted their former master and continued with him to the King family farm in Delta region of Ohio.  The farm had become a station on the Underground Railroad and the family was well prepared to protect the group from slave catchers.  Reverend King left his former slaves in the care of his family and returned immediately to Canada to make arrangements for providing his people with homes.”


      Parks Canada Agency Backgrounder News Release recently announced new designations by Government of Canada to recognize historically significant people, places and events.  Regarding Reverend William King, it reads:

 His efforts also brought him international acclaim and focused attention on the Abolition Movement in British North America.  But his deceased wife had been a Louisiana planter’s daughter and through her he had acquired slaves.  He subsequently freed his slaves, left them with his family in Ohio, a slave-free state and returned to slave-free British territory to arrange a better future for these and other refugees of American slavery.

    While King was in Canada establishing the Buxton/|Elgin Settlement the fifteen freedmen resided on the King farm for a year-and-a-half.  There they were taught northern farming and logging methods and how to preserve fruits of the harvest and for the first time in their lives, they were paid for their labors.   Along with the two dozen nieces and nephews of the families of Catherine and Mary, the Donahue’s, Kane’s and Bruce’s, they were taught to read and write.  They also attended services in the big barn at the King’s Sabbath Center.  Herma Fraker wondered – “Could this have been the first integrated school in Ohio here in Delta?”  Ohio was not at this time the refuge of many slaves.  It was the path traveled by slaves to Canada, where under the law as laid down by Mansfield in 1772, the Negro was free as soon as he stepped upon British soil.


      Slaves did not become free when they entered Ohio; the onerous Ohio Black Laws of 1807 precluded that.  Slaves could lawfully be “reclaimed”.  They were denied due process, denied a home in any county without bond for good behavior.  The Society of Friends asked for repeal of the 1807 laws.  During the Ohio Constitutional Convention of 1803 Ohio came within a few votes of becoming slave state.  In 1823 Ohio passed the Ironclad Fugitive Slave Law.

      Recalling the 1,500 mile journey to Cincinnati, Ohio from Louisiana, Reverend King writes in his Autobiography:

      The state of Ohio borders on the slave states, the Ohio River separating it from Kentucky and Virginia.  In the days of slavery there were several lines of the underground railway ran through the state of Ohio.  The southern terminus was on the Ohio River and the northern the terminus was Amherstburgh and Windsor.  When a Negro crossed the Ohio River making his escape from slavery, he was placed on the railroad and the conductor ran him safely through to Canada.  Many of the passengers on the underground railway found their way to Buxton as one of the cities of refuge, where the slave could stand and say I am free from my master, which he could not say in any part of the United States of territory.

     The fugitive slave law pursued him with its remorseless grasp until he got beyond the jurisdiction of the United States.  On the third day after leaving Cincinnati, we arrived at Toledo, from there I proceeded to my brother’s in Delta where I left my slaves with him until I could make arrangements to take them to Canada.


      Bound for Canada, a newly published book by Fergus M. Bordewic, has an excellent account of Reverend King: “King, in contrast to Henson, Wilson and Bibb, had a real gift for administration and never allowed pious hopes to cloud judgment …King left nothing to chance …After immigrating to the United States for their native Ireland, King’s family settled in Ohio where their farm eventually became a station on the Underground Railroad.”



The Delta Area History of Fulton County, Ohio


      Fulton County, Ohio, A Collection of Historical Sketches and Family Histories (1990), edited by Delta’s Mabel Hudson; In the King Family section of the history volume, the family information was taken from the King Family History, by the Reverend William King, (1893); and King family history prepared in consultation with Edna King Forrest and Sarabelle King Kaup, written by Kathern B. Forest.  References for the book include:  Look To the North Star; Thomas W. King by Minnie King: Canadian newspaper clippings; and Delta Atlas newspaper articles.

      The Fulton County History features a King portrait of about eighty family members attending the 1892 King Family Reunion held in Delta, Ohio.  The portrait reads: 

     Slavery continued to haunt William and he was determined to work for the freedom of the black people of the south …During this time the King farm, south of Delta, became an Underground Railroad station.

 During the period when the book was being compiled, Kathern B. Forest a monograph regarding her King family Underground Railroad activities:

      The exact years of operation are not known but 1844-1859 is probably accurate for the running of the King Underground Railroad station south of Delta.  The King farm was located along the overland route through the woods to the Detroit River across from Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada.

     The editor of the 1976 Fulton County History, Mabel Hudson, lives on St Route 109 next to the King

Family cemetery. Ms. Hudson was the Project Coordinator of the 1990 book, Delta, Ohio Area History.  

Herma Jane (Fraker) Hunt’s family has lived on the land northeast of the King’s farm almost as long as

the King’s have.  Her home is on the old winding road along the eastern ridge of the Bad Creek flood

plain that runs in back of the King cemetery.  Herma is now passed on leaving us with a legacy of York

Township history including an article in the Delta history book entitled “The Underground Railroad in Delta”.

    Herma outlines an account of the end of Reverend King’s journey with his fifteen freed slaves from

Louisiana to Delta on the canal boat in Ohio, “On the barge he preached to his first mixed congregation

and this was before the Ohio Black Laws were relaxed and he was liable for a $1000 fine for such an act.”  Concerning the arrival of the freed slaves in Delta from the Port of Toledo, she states, “There was

another mixed congregation in the King barn one mile south of Delta that Sunday.”


     Ms. Fraker Hunt visited Buxton in the late 1940’s for the first time, indicating there had been further

visits.   Her text in the Delta book is largely related to the King family.  Her photographs of Buxton are in

the illustrations in the volume, including a photograph of the Reverend King’s St Andrew’s Church there.  (Herma’s history is a lengthy well documented account.)  She writes of King as follows:

Even before Lincoln himself began his emancipation of the Negro, William King

envisioned their freedom.   He was part of the King family that came to settle in

the ‘Six Mile Woods’ in 1834.   By a strange twist of fate, he who was an abolitionist

in belief became the owner of 15 slaves.    

     DAR Cemetery Readings: Volume 2, Transcriptions of the Fulton County, Ohio Cemeteries, original readings taken between 1930 & 1954, has a notation for the King Cemetery, “The King family settled on the land in 1835 and by 1839, possibly earlier, they set aside a small plot to be used as a burial ground.  The King farm served as a stop on the Underground Railroad for several years.”


     The King Cemetery is distinguished in that several of the burials there are descendants of the families of President Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Harrison, Daniel Boone and the Hampton family whose branches include Society of Friends members.  These families came into Ohio in the southeast part of the state around Fairfield County and soon moved on to counties in northwest Ohio including the Fulton County then part of Lucas County Ohio.  The Application Preparer has the Lincoln Family Chart with the Lincoln, Harrison, Boone and Tallman families displayed in the branches with other associated families.  Included in this collection is a photograph of the Tallman Cemetery in Pickaway County Ohio showing the gravestone of Dinah Boone.  There is also a page from the Greater Tallman Family News entitled “Our Tallman Cousin, President Abraham Lincoln”.  The Boone Family Book has a chart showing Abigail Harrison Hampton who was married to Jonathan Hampton and they are buried in the King Cemetery along with some of their children.  Vashti Seaman’s newspaper series entitled, “Pioneers Around Delta, Ohio” was honored by the National DAR and it features another chart of these families, the family of Charles Harrison from Grand Rapids Ohio family.


     Ms. Seaman researched the King Family in her history of Delta area in the Six-Mile-Woods.  In so doing, she received information from various branches of the King family including a branch who had removed to Kansas some years ago.  The family confirmed the fact the King farm had been an Underground Station and one of the nieces had written a monograph on the subject.  

Here are some photos of the Old KING FAMILY CEMETERY

followed by a list on the burials known to be there

The National

Park Service,

National Underground Railroad Network

to Freedom has recognized the

King Family Cemetery located south of Delta,

here in Fulton County, Ohio.


Click Here to View a Slide Show of  Panoramic View of the Area

The Great Black Swamp: Historical Tales of 19th-Century Northwest Ohio. by Jim Mollenkopf, has a little gem about Colonel Dresden Winfield Huston Howard and his father Edward: “One of the trading posts established by the Howard’s father was in the Pottawatomie camp of Chief Winameg, once a thriving Indian village on the banks of Bad Creek.”   Colonel Dresden Howard was a very interesting man involving himself in all aspects of life. He was one of the earliest white men to explore this Northwest Ohio region and became regarded the local historian of the area. Throughout his life he wore many hats, not only that of a hunter, trapper, trader, farmer and family man,  but was also a respected  leader in the roles of:  an area guide & Indian Scout, a politician holding local and state offices, a businessman and entrepreneur involved in both banking & railroad entities.  He was a visionary ahead of his time involved in community oriented projects: he was the first president of the Fulton County Fair Board, one of the original members of the Maumee Valley Historical Society, the founder and first president of the Fulton County Pioneer Society in 1883, the president of the local library and also a journalist who wrote for many area newspapers of his life experiences.

    The trading post at Winameg had been established some years prior to the arrival of the King family.  Colonel Howard’s writings spoke of his family’s exploits in the rescue of the Negro fugitives which was taken up by other reporters and writers, including Wilbur H. Siebert, the eminent historian of the Underground Railway in Ohio with the exception of the “Black Swamp” area.  The King farm was also located on Bad Creek along the old Indian and pioneer trails southeast of where the Howard’s had located in Winameg.  Examining the locations of the Howard and King stations you see that they are about seven miles apart with the King’s in Ohio and the Howard’s just across the Ohio/Michigan old state line. The Weeks family station was also located nearby the Howard’s and used as an alternate stop.   The village of Winameg was originally within the old Michigan Territory.  The Michigan-Ohio dispute of 1835 determined the border was to be moved several miles north but for many years after this many who lived in this area still thought themselves to be residents of the state of Michigan.  Therefore reaching the Howard station was likely regarded as turning point with freedom in Canada just a few days away.  Ms. Eicher also confirms that the Howard’s maintained an Underground Station inland at their Winameg, Ohio farm where the fugitives blended in with the Native Indians in their village along Bad Creek.  Colonel Howard’s eulogy by Judge Hamilton of Toledo hauntingly mentions Colonel Dresden Howard’s love of the Indians and how he and his father led the fugitives to freedom in the dark of the night.   The agents of the Underground in Ms. Eicher’s family usually took the route north from West Barre to Winameg.  Her family also took their ‘charges’ to the King farm as it was a site close to the Michigan border.  Robert McClarren, Colonel Howard’s grandson, comments that Winameg is a day’s ride from the Maumee River going north and rescue parties would have utilized the Winameg camp at it sat directly on the crossroads of several of the Indian trails.  The terminus of the northern route would have been Malden in Canada.

      Professor Siebert analyzed church affiliations and nationalities of the Underground Railroad Agents in his Slavery to Freedom books:


     In general it is safe to say that the majority of helpers in the

North were Anglo-American stock, descendants of Puritan and

Quaker settlers of Eastern states or Southerners that have moved

to the Northern states to be rid of slavery.  The many stations in

the Eastern and Northern parts of Ohio and Northern part of Illinois

may be safely attributed to the large proportion of New England

settlers in those districts … In the early days running slaves

sometimes sought and received aid from the Indians …

The inhabitants of the Ottawa village of Chief Kinjeino in North

Western Ohio were kindly disposed towards the fugitive …

The people of Scotch-Irish descent were naturally liberty loving

and seem to have given hearty support to the anti-slavery cause

in whatever form it presented itself to them … The small number

of Scotch communities in Morgan and Logan counties in Ohio …

were centres of underground service. 


    The third sect to which a considerable proportion of Underground

Operators belong was Calvinistic in its creed.  All the various wings

of Presbyterianism seem to have had representatives in this class

of anti-slavery people.

     The extended King Family was of this Presbyterian extraction and their hearts were in their faith as evidenced by the anti-slavery activities.  Not only were they Scotch-Irish as outlined by Siebert, but staunch Presbyterian as well.  The family was justifiably proud of the youngest son, Reverend William King, who was a clergyman of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  He had been in the Free Churches first class after the Great Disruption in Scotland, when the Scots broke away from the original church and formed the Free Church. 

      Delta was without a Presbyterian church, but the King farm was the area’s Sabbath Center and their extended families on the King compound felt the need to a Presbyterian presences.  “A few others of the same faith had settled in Delta and around the ‘Six-Mile-Woods’  and John King had established his home as a Sabbath Center.   With the large King family it became an unguided congregation … When William arrived in 1847, his proud father asked him to conduct full services and he preached in the barn for all who came to hear him.  John got up a subscription to build a Presbyterian Church in Delta and petitioned the Presbytery in Findlay, Ohio to send a missionary.  William carried the petition to the Presbytery in September 1847.”  A congregation was formed.  John and his family were among the ten charter members of the first Presbyterian Church of Delta and served as an elder, an office he held at the time of his death.  This was the first Presbyterian Church north of the Maumee River.

      A perusal of the old church records reveals that the early member of the church were all King family members. The fifteen black settlers from Louisiana lived in the King’s barn while on the farm.  There they were taught to read and write which included reading the Bible and hymns.  They were not included as members in the early Delta church records, but since they lived in the barn being used as the Sabbath Center for a year and a half, they did attend services regularly (May 1848 to November 1849).

      “The Quaker’s deserve, in this work, to be placed before all others denominations because of their general acceptance and advocacy of anti-slavery doctrines when the system of slavery had no other opponents.  From the time of George Fox until the last traces of the evil were swept from the English-speaking world many Quakers bore a steadfast testimony against it.”

      Probably the best-known Quaker in this area of the Midwest was Laura Haviland whose statue graces the city of Adrian, Michigan only a short distance north of the King farm in Ohio on State Route 109.  This route winds its way from the Maumee River past the King station, through Delta and on north to the city of Adrian (the route become Michigan Route 52 at the border).  The Quaker settlement at the River Raisin lies just a few miles east of Adrian in Raisin Township.

      William King's  association with Laura Haviland and proof that Reverend King and Laura Haviland worked together in their Underground Railroad endeavors  is confirmed in her book where she states :

 “Another woman was directed to me by William King …who founded

a colony a few miles from Chatham, Ontario for fugitives from slavery.” 

       Ms. Haviland was a teacher at the Refugees’ Homes Settlement, a colony eight miles back of Windsor, established in 1852 by the legendary Henry Bibbs, himself a fugitive slave.  Three of the Canadian settlements, Dawn, Refugees’ Home and Buxton/Elgin, were in close proximity east of Windsor.  These three settlements were the most important of the colonies formed in Canada and Buxton is considered to be the most successful.

      The First Annual Report of the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada, March 24, 1852, lists a Refugee’s Home Society in Michigan whose objective was “To obtain permanent homes for the Refugees in Canada and promote their moral, physical, intellectual and political elevation.”  One can assume Ms. Haviland and the Michigan Quakers were involved in founding this Society of Michigan.

      The connection between King and Ms. Haviland is an important one in the Underground Railway linkage north to freedom that lend credence to the belief that the King, Howard and other families of the Fulton County Ohio Underground Network forwarded slaves to the Quaker River Raisin Settlement.  In 1829, when the Richmond, Indiana party of Quakers and Negroes passed down the Maumee River through Defiance, Ohio,  on to the Howard’s on the river.  The Howard’s were active in this rescue work as testified to by Colonel Dresden Howard.  The Howard’s were familiar with the trails of the area and escorted them north to the Quaker Settlement at River Raisin Michigan, a shelter stop along their way to Monroe, Michigan, the gateway to Detroit.  Colonel Howard’s grandson, Robert McClarren, testifies in a letter to Ms. Naomi Twining the Howard’s were conductors of this 1829 party.

The Underground Railroad & Laura Haviland

Photos of River Raisin Church and Cemetery

      The Reverend William King had a connection with another Howard family branch in the person of General Oliver Otis Howard, commissioner in charge of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Washington, D.C. (General Howard is also credited with establishing Howard University in Washington, D.C.) In 1865 King was in Washington to put before the government a plan to be finance by the citizens of Buxton.  They were to pool their resources and buy land in the South to form a colony there, similar to the Elgin Settlement, ample free labor and raise cotton and sugar.  The Buxton people wanted King to be a part of this and go south with them.

      They could not know that forty acres and a mule were a cruel fiction, “nor could they know that emancipation and freedom were not synonymous …It was then that Reconstruction failed, even before it had begun.”  The southern community would be a duplication of Buxton and General Howard was sympathetic to the plan but was fighting a losing battle.  His “heart ached for our beneficiaries …but he was helpless to offer them permanent possession.”

      Slavery was abolished in name.  King returned to Buxton with “the broken remnants of another dream.” 

      Attempts were made to embarrass General Howard in the House of Representatives, but he was acquitted of these groundless charges.  Next it was recommended that he be court-martialed.  A Special Court of Inquiry, composed of army officers, was brought against him and he was found not guilty.  The 1874 recommendation was signed by General Sherman and General Grant. (General Howard was with Sherman on his ‘March to the Sea’ and had lost his right hand in Civil War battle.)

      These stalwarts – one a military man, the other a clergyman-teacher, while not allowed by circumstances to complete their dreams, then concentrated on what was possible.  Howard went on to found several universities, schools and institutions.

      After the Civil War, Reverend King’s settlers began an exodus to the South: “Two thousand Negro graduates of Buxton schools, the Chatham Collegiate Institute, Knox and Trinity Colleges (later the University of Toronto), went south as educational, agricultural, political and religious missionaries.” 

     Seven Hundred young men and women of the exodus were from Buxton.  Among them they had “roles in the Freedmen’s Bureau in schools, hospitals and land settlement…  Others rose to national prominence …”  There were four doctors, two army surgeons, two ministers, five educators in the new Fisk and Howard Universities for Negroes, sixteen school teacher, five lawyers, one U.S. Congressman, one State Senator, one Speaker of a State Legislature, one Internal Revenue Assessor and one Circuit Court Judge.

          The half has not been told –

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *


     Genevieve Eicher states in a letter dated February 10, 2004,  "There is no question about the validity of the King family of the Reverend William King and their Underground Railroad Station, York Township, Fulton County, Ohio."  The King station activities have been overshadowed by the telling of the establishment of the settlement in Buxton, Ontario, Canada. 

      William King is best known due to the work done by him and the settlement in Buxton.  The people I talked to and interviewed were much more aware of the work done by the other King family members who ran the station on York Township.  The King farm was a well-known site to those who ran and maintained the line in Northwest Ohio, and to the runaways who passed through this part of Ohio.  These lines were maintained by persons who knew each other, worked with each other and remained friends until all had died.  Although the work was done in secrecy, the workers on the Underground Railroad never forgot the years of their work and the people they worked with in what was a most important part of their lives for many years.  

     Ms. Eicher is the Northwest Ohio Coordinator for The Friends of Freedom Society, Inc.: Ohio Underground Railroad Association and is the premiere researcher of the Underground Railroad for several counties in Northwest Ohio.  Her documentation stems from her earliest childhood memories and her written reports of her family’s reminiscences of their activities as station masters on the underground in Northwest Ohio.  During automobile tours among the various stations her parents would point out the sites and what they remembered about them. 

     During family visits and reunions Ms. Eicher learned about the King Station which was not far from the Eckhart station, one of her families’ sites.  While collecting oral traditions as a child and teenager she learned how her relatives and associated families:  Eckhart, Tubbs, Newell, Weeks, and Eicher delivered fugitives to the King Station. The King site lies near the Eckhart and Weeks stations.  From 1838 until the end of the Civil War the King farm was a station on the route to the Detroit River.  Fugitive usually traveled next to the Eicher station east of Delta and then on to Sylvania.  The Friends of Freedom, Inc. recently published a history volume consisting of text and photographs outlining the Underground Railroad in Ohio and several of Ms. Eicher’s relative’s   stations and the King station are featured in the book including the First Congregational Church, Ridgeville Corners as part of the Underground Railroad.  Ms. Eicher now owns the old church building.  (Ridgeville Corners was established by one of her families.)  Ms. Eicher comments on the published book: “There was no question that the farm (King) was a legitimate site so it was easy to do information needed.  Unfortunately I doesn’t do justice to the story of the King family and their important work with the Underground Railroad through this our part of Ohio.”

      The Friends of Freedom book chronicles stations which include the Eckhart, Newell, Patterson and Tubbs sites.  The King site is also included in the book as all of these families engaged in the rescue activities together.  The Weeks family is also featured in the book as a cooperating station near the Howard family’s Winameg, Ohio site.  The Robert and Nancy Cole Newell house in Florida, Ohio in Henry County still exists and can easily be seen as it sits along State Route 24 on the Maumee River.  The house was the first house built in Florida, Ohio in 1838 and was a trading post as well as a traveler’s inn. They had a jail attached to rear of the house a along the banks of the Miami & Erie Canal.  Fugitive slaves were often hidden in the jailhouse, but when there were prisoners in the cells the Newell’s sent the fugitives to the homes of Doctor George Patterson of Doctor Perry.   Ms. Eicher is the great-granddaughter of Nancy Newell and her adoptive mother was Alice Tubbs Motter born in 1874, died in 1963 and she was the source of much of the Ms. Eicher’s Underground Railroad knowledge.  Alice’s father was a station agent in the Defiance County, Ohio who transported slaves to the Eckhart home.  He was Charles Tubbs whose wife was Charlotte Newell Robinson Tubbs. 

 The Black Swamp

     This Underground Railroad work was done in the heart of the Great Black Swamp of northern Ohio where travel was difficult and dangerous.  The choice of paths to be taken varied according to the seasons with more options available during the dry season.  Genevieve Eicher’s adoptive mother, Alice Motter, recalled her father’s accounts of the swamp.  “When my father came into the Black Swamp in 1835-36 he found the port of Vistula (Toledo) was mud, mud and more mud.  He followed the ridges from Vistula Lucas, Fulton and Henry Counties to what is now Ridgeville Corners, Ohio.  He told me that there a was just a foot path barley a foot wide in places, up to six foot wide in other places, bordered by stinking mud and quicksand for it was wild, wild country.  Charles said that at night he climbed into the crotch of a tree to be safe from the wild animals that roamed the swamp.  The other danger was the poisonous snakes that hung from the trees or laid along the paths.”   

     Virgil W. Weeks was an abolitionist and leading farmer of Pike Township, Fulton County  near the Howard’s at Winameg, Ohio.  The Fulton County historian, Thomas Mikesell, relates the Weeks account in his history book:  “His father, David Weeks, was a strong abolitionist in the crucial days leading up to the Civil War and he was a conductor on the famous ‘Underground Railway’ through whose beneficent operation many poor slaves were assisted to freedom.  Virgil aided his father in this work, having transported a number of fugitive slaves from the station in Pike Township to the one in the River Raisin or Quaker Settlement.”  (The settlement was located just north in Michigan)

      Note:  There is an interesting connection here with the Quaker abolitionist, Laura Haviland of the Friends settlement at River Raisin as she was also known to have worked with the Reverend William King with the Underground Railway. King’s Buxton Mission and the Refugee’s Home Settlement in Canada where Ms. Haviland taught school were within a few miles of each other.

 Continuing with Ms. Eicher’s history:  "My own personal project on the Underground Railroad covers the portion of line that ran from Independence on the Maumee River in Defiance, Henry and Fulton Counties to the termination point of the Eicher farm east of Delta, Ohio."   An intersecting line met the Adams Ridge Road line at West Barre in Fulton County.  The Tubbs and Newell families transported “cargo” also on the intersecting line that passed the King farm, transporting slaves through the above counties to the Lewis Eckhart, Samuel Eckhart, King and Eicher stations as needed.  The King family was acquainted with these families but were not a regular transfer station for the Tubbs, Newell and other families on the Adam Ridge line.  The usual line followed turned north at West Barre to go to Adrian, Michigan where relative of the Tubbs family also ran Underground Railroad.  The agents from the Adams Ridge line transported on the West Barre-Delta line when fugitives wanted to go to Sylvania, Monroe or Toledo on their way to Canada.

     Slaves traveled the old Indian trail known as the Adrian, Ridgeville and Independence Turnpike (now Co. Rd. X in Henry County, Road A-C in Fulton County) which went from the Maumee River east of Defiance, Ohio to Adrian Michigan.  At West Barre the trail divided with one branch turning north across Fulton County passing the Howard station in Winameg and on to Adrian, Michigan.   The other branch continued eastward from West Barre to the King farm south of Delta, Ohio and on northeasterly toward Sylvania, Ohio or Monroe, Michigan and then on to Detroit where they crossed to Canada.

      The Maumee-Angola Road ran westward from Maumee/Toledo through Ottokee, Spring Hill (now Tedrow) and on to Angola, Indiana.  It was the chief immigrant road west and a much used slave road east.  We were told that the King station was an active station and both Lewis and Samuel Eckhart delivered ‘cargo’ to the King station and to the Philip Eicher station east of Delta, Ohio. 

      The King farm was also linked to stations near the Michigan border near the Weeks, close to the Howard’s at Winameg. The Howard family originally settled on the Maumee River in 1823 in Gilead now known as Grand Rapids, Ohio.   From about 1830-33 the Eckhart family also lived at Grand Rapids near the Howard family. Both the Howard and Eckhart families soon moved on and settled in what is now Fulton County by 1834-35.  The Markley family, another of Genevieve’s ancestors, arrived about the same time and they were reputed to be safe houses for the Underground Railway.

      My knowledge about the King family Underground activities comes from my adopted family remembrances of their parents and grandparents running active stations on the lines through Defiance, Henry and Fulton counties.  This is oral history related many times as the families gathered together at reunions and visits with each other.  We remember being told that the Weeks and Howard families ran stations, but our families were only acquaintances of those families so I know little about their stations except that they existed.  Whenever possible I verified their material with written records, account, pictures and genealogy.

      Note: The King family station at South Delta, the Howard & Weeks family stations northwest at Winameg and the Eckhart’s family stations southwest on County Road A-C locations formed a triangle and they were all strategically located along the Underground Railways through Fulton County.  

      Ms. Eicher says she has an advantage in that her family passed down the accounting of their experiences as agents on the Underground Railroad with many details and they actually toured the area indicating where the stations were. This was part of her summer education and she recorded the history in her journals which she maintains as reference to this day.  One of her best sources was her Uncle Jim Robinson, her natural relative.  His memory was excellent and he was very detailed in his recollections.  When being told the histories of her family’s Underground activities Uncle Jim made sure she got out the album so she could connect the person to the history being told. He was a Wyandotte Indian elder and very wise, precise historian. 

  *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Next is a map showing the Underground Stations and their strategic location along the

early trails of region. The sites in red on the map are clickable links that will take you to a

page with additional information about each Underground Railroad Station.

Click on Map to get an Enlarged view


Click on the 'red' names on the map above for additional information pages.

This map does not display every underground railroad station that was in the region. It is only

reflecting those sights we have been able to identify and gather information about as of this date.

Anyone having knowledge of other Underground Stations in the area are encouraged to contact us.

Send E-mail to:

Howard Family

 Colonel Dresden Winfield Huston Howard

     The sharp crack of the rifle echoed through the forest, the horse, with a groan plunged to the ground.

 This checked the pursuing party and gave stimulus and speed to the feet of the fugitives.  The slave catchers were now afraid to advance and retreated over the trail and the fugitives, though badly frightened, were permitted to continue their march to freedom unmolested.”

      Wilbur Henry Siebert, In one of his Underground Railroad books, cites an August 28, 1894, letter written by Colonel Dresden W. H. Howard which states, “Befriending these seekers of freedom was practiced by the Howard family on the Maumee …Edward (Colonel’s father) hid slaves in the dense forest near his cabin.  When they were in camp or ready to move on, Mrs. Howard supplied them with corn bread, boiled venison and pork.  The party was guided along the course of the river by Howard and his son.”

      Colonel Howard relates the rifle incident:  “Ten miles below the Rapids of Roche Teboult – or Standing Rock lived on (Isaac) Richardson, a Kentuckian, who made his living by catching slaves.  …Edward Howard was piloting a party of slaves north and the trail passed only three miles west of Richardson’s …it was necessary to keep a close lookout; and for greater safety the trip north from my father’s was always performed at night.  …We had a whisper from an Indian friend (likely the Ottawa Chief Kinjeino, whose tribe was among the earliest friends of the escaping slaves and whose village was across the Maumee from the Howard’s Trading Post at Gilead [now Grand Rapids] that this party …kept concealed in the thick, swampy forest, …was being watched and would be ambushed on the way …the party took a circuitous route to elude pursuit … re-entering the old trail …advanced three miles, when we plainly heard the beat of horses’ hoofs behind us …in a few  minutes two horsemen approached the ambuscade and in a second more the sound of the rifle was heard.” 

     “Due to the clandestine nature of the Underground Railroad, few people left written evidence of their involvement and most accounts are clouded with speculation.  However, Dresden W. H. Howard verified that his family often concealed fugitives in the woods surrounding their up home before guiding them toward Maumee.  This was a perilous undertaking and the bounties offered for the runaways were often too tempting for local residents to ignore.  The ‘slave catching’ activities of such men as Isaac Richardson and John Thompson were well known in the area at an early date.”

     The Underground Route on which this incident took place was part of the oldest line through this part of Ohio.  It did not remain the only route long.  The Quaker settlements scattered here and there through Ohio were already well grounded in abolition sentiments.  As settlers came to this corner of Northwest Ohio and aligned themselves along the old Indian trail through the area, many became Underground Stations and safe houses which opened up several alternate routes.  The January 1947 Volume of the Northwest Ohio Quarterly states: “Winameg is an unincorporated village in Pike Township in Fulton County, Ohio. It is at the crossing of the road to Angola, Indiana (State Route 246) and the Old State Road from Wauseon, Ohio to Adrian, Michigan.”

      Colonel Howard, of Wauseon, Ohio, the only survivor of this branch at the time, a gentleman over eighty years of age thinks its period of operation is fairly described by the years 1816 to 1835 or ’40.  He traced the route as follows:  “I think the main and principal route crossed the Ohio River near North bend; thence on as direct a line as possible (following the streams practicable) to the upper Auglaize, and the Blanchard’s fork of the Auglaize, passing near the Shawnee village where is now the city of Wapakoneta and to Ocquenesies town on the Blanchard where is now the village of Ottawa; thence to the Grand Rapids of Maumee (where the river could be easily forded most of the year), and at the Ottawa village of Chief Kinjeino where all were friendly and poor slave was treated kindly; thence by a plain trail north to Malden, Canada.

      In his book, The Mysteries of the Ohio Underground Railroads, Siebert relates: “The Indians befriended the colored pilgrims as early as 1818.  The earliest white known to have cooperated with them were Edward Howard and his son, D. W. Howard.  The Howard’s settled in Grand Rapids in 1823 and harbored Canada-bound slaves in the forest near to the cabin.” …From Perrysburg, a branch crossed north through Maumee Village extending fifteen miles up to Sylvania at the Michigan Boundary, then on to Adrian (Michigan) …from Adrian the trail passed through Ypsilanti to Detroit.”

     The escape trails used would depend on the season of the year and how fast the ‘conductors ran the train’.  The Howard’s built the Howard House or tavern in 1832 and several events took place in the tavern.  It was a stopping place for Negroes escaping to Canada during the Civil War.”  The Howard’s also maintained a trading post inland from the river at Winameg, the site of Chief Winameg’s Indian village and burial grounds.  As a young boy Dresden and his father had visited this area many times since they first came to the area in 1823.  According to Robert McClarren, grandson of D.W.H Howard, the visits became more frequent starting around 1829 and by 1834 a small block house was built on the site.  All of the researchers, including Mr. McClarren, Mark Lozer (Fulton County Genealogical Society web coordinator and historian) and Naomi Twining (Project Historian) are in agreement that it was logical indeed, quite likely, the Howard’s and fugitives would break their northward flight by a visit to the Howard trading post at the Indian Village of Winameg, then in Michigan territory and about a days journey from the River.  The King Station was about seven miles from Winameg on Ohio side.  So if they encountered any danger along the way the fugitives could turn to the King farm for protection or to the Weeks family farm which was also nearby.  During this period, there were few families that had settled in this area.  In the pioneering days in this section of Northwest Ohio the early families depended on one another for support and therefore grew close.  This is evidenced in the marriage of the Mary Howard McClarren (grand daughter of Colonel Dresden W. H. Howard) to William French Bruce (grandson of Elizabeth King Bruce, a sister of Reverend William King).   In 1840 census you find Jane King Bartley (sister of Reverend William King) living neighbors with Alexander Howard and son David Howard in Whitehouse, Lucas County Ohio (Alexander is a brother of Edward).   Several of these families had members living in Lucas and Wood counties along the Maumee River and also had representatives living in Fulton County near Delta and Winameg.  Studying the genealogy of these families it is evident that they had support all along the trails from the Maumee River through Fulton County to the Michigan border and others living beyond near the River Raisin Quaker settlement east of Adrian.  The farms of the King’s and the Howard’s are both located of the confluence of Indian trails within the direct march north.  Besides the Northwestern trail that connects the King farm to the Howard’s in Winameg,  each farm also had trails coming in from the south, east, west and to the north.  This allowed options for alternate paths when selecting the route to be taken to Freedom in Canada.

     It would have been logical for the fugitives to be concealed among the Indians when Howard’s went to Detroit to trade goods at the Detroit Mills via the overland route.  They also took goods by canoes on a water route up the Maumee River to Toledo, then to Monroe crossing at Malden and on to Detroit.  This was the trail taken by the Indians on their annual trip to Detroit to receive their annuity from the British Government.  As D. W. H. Howard recalls in his memoirs, the Detroit River was “thick with canoes”.  What a simple matter it would have been for the Howard’s and their friends to introduce their black fugitives to the canoes and silently cross the river to the haven of the British Lion.

     Note: Fortunately, Colonel Howard was a historian and journalist who wrote for the area newspapers and kept diaries of his adventures.  The Howard family descendants have access to this material and have been very helpful with the our request for information.

      Professor Siebert lauds Toledo’s James M. Ashley “a member of Congress from Toledo district, had experience abducting slaves while he was a youth at Portsmouth.  As a resident of Toledo he was still a serviceable operator, as opportunity presented.  Richard Mott, the elderly Quaker was another valuable agent.”  Ashley and Mott were confederate in their violation of the Slave Act at Toledo.  Congressman Ashley and Dresden W. H. Howard were close friends.

 The Quaker Rescue

     By 1828, the Quaker Benjamin Lundy, had formed one hundred societies of the Union Humane Society across the United States. “Prior to the Civil War, when the black slaves were seeking freedom in the North, Detroit was at the head of an ‘Undergound Railroad’ which used the Maumee River.  The first use of this route, perhaps of any such route in the middle west occurred in 1829. Some fugitive slaves from Kentucky settled briefly in southern Indiana but were ‘sought by the negro-hunters’, one was caught and later rescued by some ‘men of the land’.  The blacks then decided to seek safety in Canada and a group of Quakers agreed to take them north.  If they followed a pattern of other escapes along this route they traveled by night covering sixteen to twenty miles between farms.  This group arrived outside Fort Wayne October 11th 1829 and fearful of adverse reaction, sought a meeting with the leaders of the city.”


      The leader of this group, Frederick Hoover, was a member of the prominent Quaker family whose head was Andrew Hoover, who with others established the Society of Friends settlement at Richmond, Indiana in 1806.


      In an ancient letter of 11th day of the 10th month preserved by Frederick Hoover’s great-granddaughter: …”they said they would not turn to the right hand or to the left hand and if they took anything from thence they would give pieces of silver …the chief men of the city let the people pass through …they departed and took the way as one goeth toward the city of Defiance down the river Maumee and encamped on the river and there the people sang songs of praises to the Lord for his mercies in delivering then form their enemies.”


      In another section of this aged manuscript: “Now it came to pass …that the Ethiopians in the province of Kentucky were sore vexed by reason of their taskmasters and they lifted up their eyes toward the land of Indiana which lieth toward the north country over the great River Ohio …now Indiana is a land flowing with milk and honey, and they said, therefore, let us flee …so the people got them away by stealth and fled into the land of Indiana and gat them possessions in the land. …Howbeit they were sought by the negro-hunters.”


      This strange and motley company of Negroes and whites, ”later continued down along the Maumee River through Defiance into Perrysburg where they crossed the river, then north through Monroe and Detroit over the great river into Canada.” 


      Robert McClarren, grandson of Colonel D.W.H. Howard, says, “There is suggestion that the Howard’s may have been ‘conductors’ of this first group of passengers on the Maumee route (1829).”  At that early date, there were few white families on the Maumee River and the encampment where they sang praises would have been the Howard’s camp.  The Howard’s were in the habit of rescuing and feeding runaways and were knowledgeable of the routes to Winameg where the Indian village would have sheltered them.

      “As one unearths section after section of the old lines, however,

and learns about the faithful service of many brave operators, one

can not avoid the conviction that the half has not been told.”

 *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

This page began April 2007
© Copyright 2007 Naomi Twining and Mark Lozer
Information contained in this page can be used for noncommercial use only

Note about the Underground Rail Road Project:

We are currently working with the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

to achieve the acknowledgement deserved for the early pioneers of Northwest Ohio that

were active on the Underground Railroad aiding the slaves to freedom.  The project has

gained local support and also State, National and International recognition from individuals,

government entities and historical organizations. Here is the list project supporters -


Financial Donors & Project Supporters

King family members include:

  • Kathleen Kaup Pickering;

  • Charles King Kaup;

  • Robert Donahue;

  • David Ullman; (son of Victor Ullman who authored the book "Look to the North Star: A Life of William King")

  • Frances Phares; (of the Louisiana family Reverend William King married into) 

Others include:

  • Naomi Twining;

  • John & Betty Trowbridge;

  • Lowell B. Yoder;

  • Marylin Yoder;

  • York Township Trustees;

  • North Star Steel of Delta, Ohio;

  • First Federal Savings & Loan Assoc. of Delta;

  • Farmers & Merchants State Bank of Delta;

  • Robert Royce McClarran;

  • Lawrence McClarran; (Robert & Lawrence are the great grandsons of Dresden W. H. Howard)

Project Supporters

  • National Park Service, Network to Freedom has recognized the King Family Cemetery;

  • Free Church of Scotland;

  • Buxton National Historical Site, Canada;

  • Charles Blockson, author of "The Underground Railroad;

  • The Friends of Freedom Society, Inc.;

  • Ohio Underground Railroad Association;

  • Ohio Historical Society;

  • Afro-Louisiana Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.;

  • Fulton County Historical Society;

  • American Legion Post 373, Delta, Ohio;

  • Fulton County Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society;

Government Entities Endorsing Project

  • U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown;

  • U. S. Representative, Paul Gilmore;

  • Ohio Representative, Chris Redford;

  • Ohio Representative, Stephen Buehrer;

  • Fulton County Ohio Commissioners;

If anyone has additional information or wishes to make a contribution to the Underground Railroad Project

 please contact Mark Lozer.  Send E-mail to: or send information regular mail to:

Mark Lozer

817 N. Fulton St.

Wauseon, OH 43567


Naomi Twining

4713 Haddington Road

Toledo, OH 43623


(419) 822-6649

<  Or you can phone at  >

(419) 474-7084


Back to Homepage


This Page Was Last Modified Tuesday, 20-Jan-2015 14:51:42 MST
Maintained by Mark Lozer, webmaster.
Send E-mail to: