Lancaster's 'freedom spies'

Lancaster's 'freedom spies' (HM2INU)

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N 40° 2.282', W 76° 18.357'

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Rauch, Boston helped Thaddeus Stevens thwart slave catchers, circa 1850

In an upper floor office this square at No. 8 West King Street, the notorious George Hughes operated a business that supported bounty hunters who came here from Southern states tracking formerly enslaved Africans living and working in relative freedom from Lancaster City and surrounding countryside. The work of Edward H. Rauch and Robert Boston illustrate how the Underground Railroad Movement operated secretly across racial lines.

Rauch (1820-1902) was a white employee of the County Courts. He "moonlighted" by serving as the office assistant for the illiterate Hughes and recorded the slave catchers' plans. Boston (circa 1814-1888) was a barber of African descent whose shop was near here. He could see who was coming and going at Hughes' office.

Boston and Rauch were in league with Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), Lancaster County's U.S. Congressman. Together they relayed information to the anti-slavery politician, who lived one block south of Penn Square. With inside information, Stevens dispatched horsemen to warn Underground Railroad "Stationmasters" that bounty hunters were planning to raid a particular property. These actions show the extent to which Stevens and his "freedom spies" supported the network of families who sheltered the formerly enslaved who traveled through this area, and those who were living and working

on farms in rural Lancaster County. A series of local and national news accounts in 1883 first disclosed the details of these secret operations.
Year Placed2018
Placed ByHistoric Lancaster Walking Tour Corp.; The African American Historical Society of South Central Pennsylvania; &
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, July 10th, 2019 at 5:04pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 388584 N 4432795
Decimal Degrees40.03803333, -76.30595000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 2.282', W 76° 18.357'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 2' 16.92" N, 76° 18' 21.42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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