Guide to Freedom

Rediscovering
Software: Microsoft Officethe Underground Railroad
In One United States County

 

by Peter H. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Guide to Freedom

Rediscovering
the Underground Railroad
In One United States County

 

by Peter H. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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contents

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Contents

Legacy of Conscience: The Underground Railroad

The 280-Year North American Heritage

Time Line of Underground Railroad Events, 1585-2008

The Underground Railroad Today

The Underground Railroad in One United States County

 

Rating the Authenticity of Underground Railroad Sites

The Shrouded Nature of the Underground Railroad

Development of the Wellman Scale

Application of Wellman Scale Ratings

 

Information Sources on Frederick County Underground Railroad Sites

Sites Documented By Written Records

Sites Known From Oral Tradition

Sites Listed By Imputation

Distribution of Frederick County Sites By Means of Authentication

Distribution of Frederick County Sites By Wellman Scale Rating

Frederick County Underground Railroad Mysterious Now As Then

 

Underground Railroad Safe-Houses and Routes in Frederick County

Map of Frederick County, Maryland Underground Railroad
Sites
Lost to Time: Forgotten Underground Railroad Sites

Frederick County's Most Authenticated Underground Railroad Sites

Sites with Some Doubts As to Authenticity

Christmas, 1855:  A Famed Underground Railroad Route

More Underground Railroad Routes In Frederick County

Bucking the Trend: Frederick County's Old African-American Villages

John Brown's Ally:  Reverend Thomas Henry and His AME Churches

Safe-Houses of Other Denominations

Safe-Houses In the City of Frederick

Safe-Houses In the Countryside

Escape Sites

 

Major Underground Railroad Sites Near Frederick County

Maryland

Virginia

Pennsylvania

 

Local Tours of the Underground Railroad

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to Waterford, Virginia

Frederick, Maryland, Underground Railroad Tour

Rural Frederick County Underground Railroad Tour

 

Further Exploring the Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad Free Press

Good Reading

Places to Visit
On the Web

 

References

Index

Endnotes

 

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Guide to Freedom

Rediscovering
the Underground Railroad
In One United States County

by Peter H. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home

contents

synopsis

purchase

author

 

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Some regard the Underground Railroad as the noblest endeavor of conscience in United States history.  The Underground Railroad existed for 280 years - more than a quarter of a millennium - from 1585 when the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in the New World at the Spanish settlement of Saint Augustine, Florida, to the end of the Civil War in 1865. The inception of the Underground Railroad, though it would not have a name for another 250 years, would have been when an enslaved person first escaped from the Saint Augustine colony and was aided by any other person, most likely a Native American.

For 280 years, every American - black, white and Native American - was aware of the institution of slavery, that every enslaved person wanted to be free, that some would risk life and limb to seek their freedom, and that some free people - black, white and Native American - would risk all to aid freedom seekers in their quest.  All Americans and Canadians were acutely aware of these things which therefore formed a deeply rooted part of the very consciousness of the two nations and a tightly woven strand of the fabric of daily life.  Thus, the long contest between freedom and slavery, between good and evil in North America, was, as author Fergus Bordewich puts it, the war for the soul of America.  Indeed it was.  It took 280 years - a very, very long time - to win this war, but won it was.  The moral certitude, perseverance and courage of Underground Railroad safe-house operators and conductors, but most especially of freedom seekers themselves, delivered the continent from its moral failing and darkness.

When Harriet Tubman, the last living major figure of the Underground Railroad, died in 1913, interest in the Underground Railroad, which still ran high, began to wane.  Other than a slight resurgence in the 1930s, the memory of the Underground Railroad began to slip from the national consciousness until by the mid-twentieth century many American adults either had not heard of the Underground Railroad at all or, among the few who had, sometimes actually took the name literally as a kind of subterranean conveyance for fugitives.

What remains today through the oral traditions of handed-down accounts and, in many fewer cases, actual documentation almost entirely from northern states is precious and dwindling as oral traditions continue to die out with the passing of Underground Railroad site owners and the descendants of freedom seekers, safe-house operators and conductors.  Thus, it is vital to record and preserve intact Underground Railroad stories while they remain with us and to assure that they are not pushed to dusty back shelves to be forgotten by too much emphasis on the very small fraction of Underground Railroad history and sites fortunate enough to be documented.  The purpose of Guide to Freedom is to reveal and preserve for posterity the collection of these stories from one United States county, Frederick County, Maryland, which found itself at the crossroads of the national argument over slavery, the Civil War and the Underground Railroad.

Routes east of the Appalachians are not well documented until one gets north of the Mason-Dixon Line and into Pennsylvania, the first free state which freedom seekers encountered until November 1, 1864, when Maryland abolished slavery. Frederick County sits directly amidst a fifty-mile swath between southern Maryland to the east which had strong pro-slavery views and the Appalachians to the west where the terrain made flights to freedom more difficult.  This fifty-mile stretch of friendlier, easier-to-negotiate territory funneled freedom seekers through Frederick County, the neighboring Montgomery and Washington Counties of Maryland and Washington, DC.  Frederick County sits at the center of this funnel.

Frederick County, a border county in a border state, had distinctly split sympathies regarding abolition and slavery with the predictable result of virtually all of its Underground Railroad sites being clandestine at the time and therefore remaining very shrouded, if not altogether forgotten, until recent research. Guide to Freedom reveals the Underground Railroad in Frederick County where author Peter Michael resides and has been uncovering the safe-houses, routes and personages of the Underground Railroad intensively for the past seven years.

As of 2008, sixty-one confirmed or suspected Underground Railroad sites have been identified in Frederick County, beginning to flesh out the picture of what the Underground Railroad in the county looked and felt like in its time.  With the renewed enthusiasm for the Underground Railroad, stories in Frederick County are beginning to surface more and more often and the list of possible sites grows.  Even as it was in its day, we can never be certain whether some sites said to have been involved in the Underground Railroad in this county, as elsewhere, actually were involved, and this ambiguity reflects the very nature of the Underground Railroad in its time.

Guide to Freedom: Rediscovering the Underground Railroad In One United States County reveals much of the recently rediscovered Underground Railroad life of Frederick County, Maryland, a major conduit for freedom seekers between the slave state of Virginia and the free state of Pennsylvania, both adjoining the county.  Despite Frederick County's geographic importance to the Underground Railroad, most of its fascinating Underground Railroad history had nearly been lost to time.  With the aid of local historians and others who came forth with documentation and their remembered oral traditions, Peter Michael's Guide to Freedom presents one of the very few detailed pictures of the Underground Railroad in any border or southern state. 

Guide to Freedom lists all confirmed or suspected Underground Railroad safe-houses and routes in this one United States county and rates each according to the likelihood that its oral tradition or documentation is authentic.  Many of the book's site listings are accompanied by photographs of the safe-house or route.  What emerges is a network of six confirmed routes, more than fifty confirmed or suspected safe-houses, and nearly twenty Underground Railroad freedom seekers, safe-house operators and conductors.  Of high interest to readers will be the stories of individual freedom seekers identified by name who passed through Frederick County including several who were sheltered in the still-existing stone spring house at the author's Cooling Springs Farm.

Moving beyond Frederick County, Guide to Freedom details seven nearby Underground Railroad sites of prime national importance including the original Uncle Tom's cabin, provides directions for several road tours, and offers guidance for further Underground Railroad reading and exploration.  Aside from being fascinating reading, Guide to Freedom shows the way for others wanting to reveal the Underground Railroad histories of their own locales and serves as an excellent text for students from middle school through college.

 

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Guide to Freedom

Rediscovering
the Underground Railroad
In One United States County


by Peter H. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home

contents

synopsis

purchase

author

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purchase

Guide to Freedom

Guide to Freedom: Rediscovering the Underground Railroad In One United States County may be ordered on line at Amazon.com or through your favorite bookstore.  Click here to order from Amazon.com.

 

Other Books By Peter H. Michael

An American Family of the Underground Railroad

A very readable and heavily documented history of the involvement by the author's ancestors in the Underground Railroad and the family's later fights for racial justice in the United States during the twentieth century.  In a rare account, the book sheds light on one of the most courageous and now famous escapes of the Underground Railroad and its direct conjunction with the author's family then and today.  Click here to order from Amazon.com.

 

Out of This World 

A fast-moving and remarkably adventurous journal of the year Peter Michael spent in Thailand fully engaged in the cultural and historical time and place that was Southeast Asia in 1975 while directing a critical United Nations project.  Khmer Rouge, Bangkok diplomatic nightlife, tranquil Buddhist monks, Thai princesses, Soviet spies, cave temples, cobras, a Nobel Prize and more crowd these pages.  In some passages, the reader will find it hard to believe that Out of This World is nonfiction but it is.  Click here to order from Amazon.com.

 

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Guide to Freedom

Rediscovering
the Underground Railroad
In One United States County

by Peter H. Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

home

contents

synopsis

purchase

author

 

 

 

Click here to arrange a presentation

Click here to email the author

 

 

 

The Author

Peter H. Michael is publisher of Underground Railroad Free Press, the nation's largest circulation Underground Railroad news publication (urrFreePress.com).  Through its web-based Lynx and Datebook services, Free Press serves as nexus of the international Underground Railroad community.  Mr. Michael founded the annually awarded Free Press Prizes for leadership, preservation and advancement of knowledge of today's Underground Railroad, the top honors bestowed in the Underground Railroad community.

Mr. Michael and his wife Vicki, a painter and civic leader, are the seventh Michael generation at Cooling Springs Farm (CoolingSprings.org) which his ancestors founded in 1768 and later operated as an Underground Railroad safe-house. Open to the public for tours and study, Cooling Springs Farm is one of the nation's most visited Underground Railroad sites. Listed on national, state and local registers, Cooling Springs Farm is believed to be the nation's only Underground Railroad safe-house still owned by the same family as in Underground Railroad times, or one of only two. Peter Michael also authored An American Family of the Underground Railroad (FreedomRailroad.com) which vividly tells the story of his family's Underground Railroad involvement and later work in fighting racism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Mr. Michael serves as president of Michael Strategic Analysis (mcgmcg.com), an award-winning strategic planning and market analysis firm. He completed Princeton's post-graduate program in demography on a Population Council fellowship, had his Berkeley MBA thesis published as the cover story of a national magazine, and as an undergraduate attended the University of Maryland on an academic scholarship.

 

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