Following are some of the Mt. Healthy residents connected with the Underground Railroad, along with the stories told about them, and some of the evidence that is being uncovered now. The process of research continues for these and others whose stories have yet to be rediscovered. If you have any information to contribute about these or any others abolitionists, please contact us.
James Dunlap (1826-1850) An African-American born in the District of Columbia to a freed former slave. His family were in the employ of Charles Cheney. While a teenager Dunlap would drive freedom seekers north to Hamilton in a “light running wagon with curtains” provided by Cheney, where they would meet with another “conductor” to move the next leg of their journey north to Canada. (from the 1901 manuscript titled “The Underground Railroad” by Frank Woodbridge Cheney; see the page on this website.)
Dr. Alexander Baird Luse (1809-1892). A physician, Dr. Luse was reputed to have given medical care to freedom seekers as they took respite in Mt. Healthy on their way north. Local history asserts that he lived on the west side of (then) Mt. Pleasant at 3206 Compton Road, but maps from 1847 and 1848 place Dr. Luse on 53 acres running from south of Cross County Highway to approximately Compton Rd approximately along Elizabeth Street. (Mt. Healthy Historical Society files.) Dr. Luse also led temperance meetings in Mt. Pleasant in the 1850s. (Philanthropist)
Anthony Nelson (1785 – 1874), according to oral tradition assisted fugitive slaves as they made their way north through Mt. Healthy. Nelson an African American resident of Mt. Healthy, was born into slavery in Virginia. He had come to Mt. Healthy after living for a time in southern Indiana. Oral tradition among the descendants of the Nelsons holds that the Nelson family provided food for freedom seekers who stayed overnight at some safe refuge in the village, possibly the Scott House, at their home located on the northwest corner of Kinney and Harrison Street. (information from Arlette Merritt, descendant)
Nathan Hastings (ca.1782-1854) From Massachusetts, Hastings purchased a farm in Mt. Healthy in 1842; his home stood not far from the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Compton Road. Annie Sampson Woodruff (1855-1933), whose father William Sampson took over the farm after his cousin’s death, recorded in a 1923 memoir narrative that “the old tool house and wood shed were originally attached to the house and were the station of the ‘Underground Railroad’. Mr. Hastings was an abolitionist, and secluded there many fugitive slaves and helped them on their way to Canada.” (pg. 1 of typed manuscript, held by the Mt. Healthy Historical Society) Nathan Hastings presided over the anti-slavery Liberty meeting at Mt. Healthy in June, 1842, and was a member of the Vigilance Committee for the Anti-Slavery Party in Springfield Township (20 June 1842 , Philanthropist). He gave a portion of his farmland for the site of the Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church, which was constructed in 1829 (from One Square Mile). The church hosted the 1841 anti-slavery convention for Hamilton County.
Peter Melendy (1823-1901) managed a 101 acre farm, called Thinadiska Place, in Mt. Healthy (Mt. Pleasant) from 1850-1855. Since he was raised by ardent abolitionists, father James and uncle John Melendy, it is worth conjecturing that Peter supported Underground Railroad work while living next to the Hamilton Avenue route to freedom. More research is needed to either confirm or discard this conjecture. Following is some circumstantial evidence.
The Melendys belonged to Sixth Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati , a congregation founded in 1831 which restricted membership to avowed abolitionists. (Wright, pp. 36 fwd) John Melendy was among the eight delegates from Hamilton County attending the first annual convention of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in Granville, Ohio , April 1836 (from Siebert Collection, “Anti-Slavery Convention of 1836”, pg. 5)
His biographer relates that Peter mentioned his Uncle John’s involvement with the Underground Railroad in his 1898 unpublished autobiography. According to the biography, “Uncle John was active in the operation of the underground railroad, no only by quietly advancing funds but by actually participating in the transfer of negroes over the Ohio River and across Ohio.” (Peter Melendy: The Mind and the Soil, Luella Wright, 1943, The State Historical Society of Iowa, p.41)
Karen Arnett, February 2014