The River to Lake Freedom Trail follows US Route 23 from Portsmouth Ohio along The Ohio River through Central Ohio, North of Marion County it follows State Route 4 to Sandusky and onto Lake Erie. This was one of the most frequently used corridors of the underground railroad. This historical sign is just south of Marion on Route 23 at a rest stop. Proving yet once again the need to keep one's open to see all there is to see. That travel and what we can learn from travel can be right in front of our eyes. Who knew a bathroom break could be so enlightening?
The flip side of this historical marker tells a story about Bill Anderson, or Bill Mitchell and slavery. I've left the picture large, and you can go larger still by clicking so you can read the account of his running away, being found out, tried, and freed. Wonderful to read about the Quakers and his ultimate escape to Canada through help of many.
As I read this, I felt both good and bad. I felt good to read he had escaped, I felt good to read people had helped him, I felt bad for what he was forced to endue and the narrow mindedness of the slave owners who came looking for him. I grew up in Marion and so also felt a since of pride that people in my former community had done the right thing.
I tried to find some more information about Bill and did find this information in wikipedia.
A Bill Anderson was born in June of 1811 the son of free Black Susan and Slave Black Lewis Anderson. There's a narrative written by Bill Anderson that was published in The Chicago papers long ago. This narrative indicates Bill was 24 years a slave, sold 8 times, jailed 60 times, and whipped 300 times. It goes onto say when his father Lewis died his own mother Susan sold him into slavery to Mr. Vance a neighbor of Mr. Shelton's who owned Lewis Anderson. There are accounts of his reading on the sly, getting caught and being whipped for doing so. There are additional accounts that he also practiced writing on the sly until caught. He was kidnapped by another plantation owner and sold in a slave market after being tied to 60 or 70 other slaves and marched across the state of Tennessee. He was jailed for helping other slaves in Kentucky. This narrative goes onto describe the plan Bill had to abolish slavery that sounded very similar to The American Indians on Reservations. I don't know if the Bill on the plague and the Bill in the narrative are the same, as I didn't see a reference made about escaping to Canada. No matter, both stories cause us to stop and pause. We must pause and remember the wrongs committed to assure they are never repeated.
I'll leave here the link where I read the 2nd account listed so you can read in more detail and come to your own conclusions.
is this the same man?