COMMUNITIES

UGRR - Communities

COMMUNITIES

Overview

A variety of communities collectively supported the covert mission of the Underground Railroad. Individuals in these communities typified a commonalty of thought, perspective, and approach in their anti-slavery attitude. This section of the website highlights the communities that engendered abolitionist tendencies as a whole.

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The Elgin Settlement in Buxton

Revered William King successfully established Elgin as a settlement for fifteen former slaves from Louisiana. Beginning with 4,500 acres, Elgin grew to be over 9,000 acres. Black settlers could purchase land at $2.50 per acre, payable in 10 annual installments. Many whites in the area were strictly opposed to a free black settlement and organized vigilance committees to police the settlement. By 1855, 150 families inhabited Elgin and found work on the railroad. The community placed an emphasis on education; Elgin’s students learned Latin and Greek in addition to English, arithmetic, geography. The curriculum was so strong that white parents enrolled their children.

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Wilberforce, Ontario

When Cincinnati’s African American population dramatically increased, white Cincinnatians demanded that the city begin enforcing Ohio’s Black Codes. In response to these racial tensions, James Charles Brown, a former slave, organized black Cincinnatians around the idea of starting a settlement in Ontario. When white mobs raided a black neighborhood, thousands of African Americans fled the city; many had sights on Brown’s settlement, some relocated to other Northern cities. The settlement in Ontario became known as Wilberforce and had a gristmill, three sawmills, general stores and a tavern.

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This program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program.