Hall of Free Discussion by Caroline Williams U.S.Park's “Network to Freedom” Three Recognized Sites on Hamilton Avenue Zebulon Strong House-Six Acres Bed and Breakfast Free Meeting House Farmers' College The Wilson House by Caroline Williams Cable and Coffin

Hall of Free Discussion by Caroline Williams

The Hall of Free Discussion was built at Ludlow’s Grove by James C. Ludlow in Northside near the Mill Creek outside of the city limits. It was scene of many debates about controversial topics such as abolition where speakers such as Rev. Lyman Beecher and William Cary were popular. Some students from the Lane Seminary used the Hall as a classroom to teach blacks, a very provocative move.

U.S.Park's “Network to Freedom” Three Recognized Sites on Hamilton Avenue

Wesleyan Cemetery (Northside) recognizes the burial site of abolitionist John Van Zandt as well as Wesleyan Cemetery's role in the funeral decoy of the Escape of the 28. The Escape of the 28 Corridor along Kirby, Glenview and Belmont Avenues (Northside, College Hill) recognizes the route of 28 Freedom Seekers who find refuge in College Hill on their way to Canada. The Charles Cheney site (Mt Healthy) recognizes Cheney as part of the anti-slavery Liberty Party and as someone who, with the help of free man of color Jim Dunlap, transported Freedom Seekers to the next station.

Zebulon Strong House-Six Acres Bed and Breakfast

Zebulon Strong built two houses, one brick at 5434 Hamilton Avenue and the one that is now Six Acres Bed & Breakfast at 5340 Hamilton Avenue. The brick house was surrounded by a large orchard and was used as a safe house. Six Acres, The wooden house, contains several hiding places that can be seen today. The escaping slaves would come up the ravine, from where the old railroad line was later located and hide in the piles of brush in the gulley under some old burlap sacks. The Strong children would play in this area, casually leaving behind food.

Free Meeting House

The Mt. Healthy Free Meeting House was built in 1825 as a community meeting house, initially for church congregations that lacked a dedicated building. Later, it served as a venue for civic and political meetings and was the site of anti-slavery and Liberty Party conventions in the early 1840s. Salmon P. Chase and James G. Birney and other leading abolitionists gave rousing speeches here.

Farmers' College

Farmers’ College was founded by Freeman Grant Cary, eldest son of William Cary. Freeman graduated from Miami University when Dr. Robert H. Bishop was the president. Due to differences over the abolition question, Dr. Bishop and Rev. Dr. John W. Scott left the faculty of Miami University and came to Farmers’ College at the invitation of Cary. Dr. Bishop, other faculty and some students regularly hid slaves in the bell tower.

The Wilson House by Caroline Williams

Samuel and Sally Wilson purchased a log cabin, land and outbuildings at 1502 Aster Place in 1849 from Freeman G. Cary. It has been owned by only three families in more than 160 years. The Wilsons were Presbyterians and strong abolitionists and their house was a station on the route to freedom. Three of the children were involved in the Underground Railroad as described in the Harriet Wilson's Letter to Dr Siebert. A fourth, Theo Wilson, was the Executor of Levi Coffin's Estate.

Cable and Coffin

Jonathan Cable (back far right and Levi Coffin (back with top hat) are here with an unidentified group, many holding books. While many abolitionists worked to end slavery, all did not work for racial equality and full citizen rights. Jonathan Cable, Laura Haviland and John Fairfield are examples of radical abolitionists who dedicated their lives to racial equality and worked to make Hamilton Avenue a road to freedom. (picture used with permission from Cable descendant Sylvia Rummel)


Watch this video produced for the College Hill Bicentennial Living History Event.

  • Watch the video produced for the College Hill Bicentennial Living History Event, September 21st, 2013 by Sam Hahn.  Learn about the rich history of this important route to freedom from Northside to Mt. Healthy.

Escape of the 28 and Other Publications

Escape of the 28

In 1853, twenty-eight freedom seekers walked away from Petersburg, Kentucky and crossed the Ohio River. Click here to read this and other related stories.


Map of Road to Freedom

  • There are many sites along Hamilton Avenue that are a piece of the history of the work to end slavery and the Underground Railroad. Click here to see map and the  short descriptions or go to Places on the menu bar above for more information on specific sites.


Local history Day at the Freedom Center

September is International Underground Railroad Month. The Cincinnati Underground Railroad Freedom Center is celebrating on September 10th from 10-4 by inviting local citizen historians to set up displays and be available to talk about our local abolitionist history. This is a Fifth Third Foundation Free Family Sunday and all are encouraged to attend. with
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From Abolition to BLM

At 5920 Hamilton Avenue in College Hill, there is a pop-up museum exhibit entitle “The Journey Continues: from Abolition to Black Lives Matter” It is in a showroom window and is visible from the sidewalk and will be open through November 7, 2020. It commemorates International underground Railroad Month and focuses on the interracial networks
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Cary Sisters event tomorrow

Alice and Phoebe Cary were sisters who were growing up in Cincinnati while Harriet Beecher Stowe was here and devoted their lives to literature and social reform, including abolition and women’s rights. We’ll explore their literary and political similarities and differences with Harriet and her work. Discussion led by Dr. Kristen Renzi and Dr. John Getz
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Sewing now and in 1846

Cincinnati’s sewing response echoes history3/24/20202 CommentsDays ago, SewMasks4Cincy was organized as a virtual sewing group to address the shortage of masks for the brave souls in the front lines of the battle against coronavirus.  The people behind this effort have struck a chord, bringing together friends, neighbors, strangers–everyone and anyone who can take matters into their own
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Ida B. Wells Documentary

The Harriet Beecher Stowe House Reading SeriesThe Semi-Colon Club was a literary discussion group Harriet joined while living in Cincinnati.  Our Semi-Colon Club discusses the issues that make up Harriet’s legacy–from the 19th century until the present day. ​Discussions begin Saturdays at noon and are led by Barbara Furr, HBSH Board Member and former Walnut
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September Is International Underground Railroad Month!

International Underground Railroad Month acknowledges the significance of the interracial Underground Railroad for its contribution to the eradication of slavery in the United States and as a cornerstone for the civil rights movement that continues today in the Black Lives Matter movement.  College Hill had an active community of abolitionists who were agents on the
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Freedom Center Lecture, Feb. 6: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence

Freedom Lecture: Kellie Carter Jackson Freedom Lecture: Kellie Carter JacksonThursday, February 6, 2020 | Reception 6:00 P.M. | Lecture 7:00 P.M.National Underground Railroad Freedom Center50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202 Free lecture, click here to register through the Freedom Center website to reserve a seat. From the Freedom Center’s website: “In honor of Black history
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John Hatfield and his land in Carthagena, Mercer County, Ohio

[Betty Ann Smiddy has put together a background history of the black settlement Carthagena, in Mercer County Ohio. This serves as helpful context and supplement to Smiddy’s recent booklet Hatfield: Barber, Deacon, Abolitionist. Mercer County was young when Dorcas Moore and her eight children presented emancipation papers[1] from Harrison County Kentucky, recorded Dec. 30, 1830
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Harriet Tubman Myths

A movie to be released Thursday, October 31st, will challenge many of the myths that surround Harriet Tubman. In the version of American history that is taught in our schools and featured in children’s literature, Tubman has always been one of the few African-Americans associated with the Underground Railroad.   “Few figures in American history have been
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Author speaks about her new booklet

Author speaks about her new booklet

July 13, 2019   Our newest publication, John Hatfield Barber, Deacon, Abolitionist, was written for the Hatfield family and researchers. There are two versions available on our current publication page—a version of the story and an expanded version with more genealogical information. I’m going to interject myself into the story now, something I don’t usually
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