Miami-Erie Canal and the Underground Railroad

Butler County Ohio is full of history and places of interest.

Abdul: Abdul Shakur Ahmad is my name, a native Middletownian, and I’ve done research on the history of Middletown as it relates to the Underground Railroad. And I came to know by looking at this marker that was dedicated today years ago, and then there’s a monument across the street from the Canal Museum stating that the Miami Erie canal was an underground railroad route. So I said, “Really?” And so as I started to research of Mr. Siebert, the historian on the Underground Railroad said that the toe paths for the canals throughout the north were the pathways for the journey to freedom.

So as we did the research, we found out that there have been 14 African-American families in Middletown who lived here on North Main Street who had safe houses for those who were trying to seek freedom in the north. So as we found out more and did the research in Middletown, we found out that downtown was where the hub was for the Underground Railroad. As we find that people who came through seeking freedom went north to West Alton and on through up to Miami County, and they followed the river, the Great Miami River, as well as the Miami Erie canal. So that history has helped me to learn more about who the people were, how to Presbyterians and the Methodists and the Quakers who are against slavery. And Ohio being a free State, this was a safe passageway for the people to travel.

The Canal Museum

What we have now through the research is the DVD that is available here to my… at the Canal Museum, and it’s called the long journey to freedom. So we share who the people were, how they did, and it’s a great history. So we’d like to have everyone come to know that freedom reign supreme in Middletown by way at a hope… by way of the canal and that it has brought many people together. So please come to Middletown and find it here. Thank you.

Interviewer: Are there any families that are left that came from the Underground Railroad that is still established in Middletown?

Abdul: No, no, we were… we’re trying to… we’ve had one connection, but there are older people. They were here between 1830 and 1860. So… but the monument lists the names, I don’t know that I’m right off, but when you visit, you can see the monument across in Lake… Lakeside Park.

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