Underground Railroad in Morgan County
Front Text : "Underground Railroad"
Some of the main Ohio Underground Railroad lines that fugitive slaves
used on their way from the Ohio River toward Canada and freedom
followed the Muskingum River. These lines, however, were not
easy. Under the 1793 and 1850 fugitive slave laws, runaway
slaves could be captured and returned to their owners. Therefore
fugitives traveling this route were led by "railroad conductors"
in a zig-zag pattern to elude the bounty hunters. And because
it was so dangerous and difficult many of the early runaways
were young men. Conductors hid slaves in caves, barns, and
secret places at or near the Underground Railroad. And many
people helped their friends and neighbors involved in these activities.
Various routes connected the Muskingum River from Belpre on
what is today State Route 339 to Waterford and Little Hocking
via State Route 555 to Putnam in Muskingum County.
Back Text : "Underground Railroad in Morgan County"
The main route of the Underground Railroad through Morgan County
followed the old Lancaster Road through Chesterhill, Pennsville, Rosseau,
Morganville, and Deavertown, a swathe of land about twenty-five miles
long and sixteen wide along the Muskingum River. One of the most
interesting Underground Railroad conductors on the route was a man
named Rial Cheadle. He was born in Stockport, was involved in stations
in several places in Morgan County, and worked with an Abolitionist
society in Big Bottom. He was a carpenter, button maker, and later
a teacher. Acting as a witless man and singing silly songs, Cheadle
fooled slave catchers who thought him incapable of helping fugitives.
Other people from Morgan County included members of the Quaker
community at Chesterhill, William Cope at Pennsville, and the Thomas Gray
family and Affallia, and Reuben Deaver at Deavertown. All were
instrumental in doing everything possible to help former slaves