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A Step-By-Step Guide to Victorian Mourning

**Disclaimer: Spring Hill is not making fun of or light of death. However, because we are exploring Mourning habits, we thought we’d share this fun, silly, and education guide.

We promise, mourning the Victorian way isn’t as difficult as it seems. Just follow our steps below!

1. Someone dies (we suggest waiting and not taking matters into your own hands. As much as it may be nice to think about getting rid of that annoying co-worker).

death girl horror creepy

2. Stop all the cocks in the house (or at least the ones in the room where the death took place). They need to be stopped at the time of death.

clock tick Tock

3. Clean and dress the body for the wake, then move into the most formal room in the house (most likely the parlor, or living room).

my body is ready harry potter snape

4. Go to the coffin warehouse, or to one of the men in your family, and have a coffin made.

coffin spongebob squarepants

5. Cover all of the mirrors, portraits, and photographs with black crepe fabric. If you really like black, feel free to cover up everything that’s shiny. (Mirrors, Portraits and Photographs might steal your soul, or keep the dead one’s soul in the house to haunt you).

cat time mirror psycho

6. Make sure you have all your mourning clothes! They can be made, purchased, or you can simply dye your told clothes back.

cartoon black dress goth cut

7. Send your funeral invitations.

season 1 episode 3 sorry muppets the muppets

8. Stark cooking! Wakes and funerals bring lots of people that you have to feed!

cooking funny dog food

9. Bring in your guests for the wake and funeral. Depending on your religious beliefs, be sure to stock up on appropriate food, alcohol, and music!

Fandor dance ireland wake pub

10. Hold the funeral, either at your home or at graveside. Funerals are short, maybe lasting only 15 minutes.

The Simpsons sad season 4 episode 13 speaking

11. Widows and Widowers stay in mourning for up to two and a half years, with other family members adopting it for shorter periods of time, depending on their relationship to the deceased.

winona ryder goth beetlejuice

Bonus! Most important, the body can’t be left alone at any time! (Just in case anything freaky happens).

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halloween dracula coffin vintage halloween classic halloween

Good luck with your Victorian Mourning! And while we recognize that it is often easy to overlook death when it comes to history, or to make light of some very strange customs, death is a part of our life.

death morbid sad forrest gump heartbreak

—–

Spring Hill is currently hosting a full house exhibit with the home set up similarly as would have been seen in 1854 when Arvine Wales passed away. Come tour the home on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-4:00pm. There are two audio tours available for your enjoyment: Victorian Mourning and Hidden Killers of the 1800s Home. 

Tours:
Adults $5.00
Students and Seniors $4.00
5 and Under FREE

Check out our website for information on our upcoming Mourning Arvine Wales programming.

(Queen) Victoria Mourning

Image result for Queen Victoria's daughters in mourning

After the death of her husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria of England plunged into mourning. A political match had turned into a beautiful, 21 year marriage, with the two clearly in love with one another. Victoria mourned deeply, wearing black for the rest of her life, including to some of her own children’s weddings. She became known as the “Widow of Windsor” for her dedication to grieving her husband.

Prince Albert was only 42 years old when he passed away in 1861. He left behind his wife and their nine children. For the next 40 years, Victoria dedicated her life to remembering her husband, and making many of his dreams a reality. This included commissioning two public statues of her husband, one in Wolverhampton in 1866 and one in Hyde Park in 1877. She also built the Royal Albert Hall in 1871, which had been his idea and dream and is still used today.

Victoria was strict with her mourning. Until her own death, she used black bordered stationary and required her daughters and maids to only wear black jet jewelry in her presence. She and her daughters took memorial photographs, like the one above, with her daughters and a bust of Prince Albert.

These photographs, the black bordered stationary, and wearing all black started to influence the culture around her. With Victoria’s very public display of her mourning, people around the world started to emulate her. This turned mourning into something new. Instead of a private, personal process, grieving loved ones became a public performance that others could witness and critique.

Mourning guides were published for the public’s consumption. People could judge how others measured up to the expectations of mourning. One young maid was the subject of peer pressure by her community when her husband died only a year into their marriage. The widow chose to mourn modestly, sticking within her budget. When her employer saw her later decked out in extravagant widows weeds, she asked what had caused her to spend so much money on mourning her husband. The maid mentioned that her neighbors had started commenting that she and her husband must not have actually been married because of her lack of mourning him. She was pressured into spending lots of money that she didn’t have to prove to her neighbors that their marriage had been legitimate.

With Victoria’s public grief, mourning became a public performance for the community. In the upcoming blog posts, we’ll explore a variety of mourning customs to coincide with our Mourning Arvine Wales: Death in the 1800s exhibit.

—–

Spring Hill is currently hosting a full house exhibit with the home set up similarly as would have been seen in 1854 when Arvine Wales passed away. Come tour the home on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00-4:00pm. There are two audio tours available for your enjoyment: Victorian Mourning and Hidden Killers of the 1800s Home. 

Tours:
Adults $5.00
Students and Seniors $4.00
5 and Under FREE

Check out our website for information on our upcoming Mourning Arvine Wales programming.

Freedom Quilts: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Here is the last installment of our #UGRRMyth series!

<p>—– <p>Go onto Pinterest and enter in the search bar “Underground Railroad Activities Kids” and I guarantee in the first 10 pins that pop up, at least 3 will be about Freedom Quilts, or Quilt Codes.

<p>Coming onto the history scene in the 1990s, the book “Hidden in Plain View” spread the story authors Tobin and Dobard based around their interviews with Ozella McDaniel. The idea that McDaniel shared was that slaves would make quilts to tell each other stories and to remember directions to get to freedom. Each quilt square means something different in the code, so once you know it, theoretically, an abolitionist could put out a code with directions or a message to runaways about what was safe and where to go.

<p>This story is beautiful, romantic, and so much fun, because, who doesn’t like a secret code? Unfortunately, most historians and organizations such as the National Parks and the Freedom Center are all in agreement when it comes to the lack of evidence.

<p>First is the practical problem: Where are slaves getting the material for these quilts? In the popular children’s picture book “Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt,” Clara works in the Big House sewing for her master. Her quilt is made entirely of scraps she takes from the sewing room. This idea is possible. It is also equally possible that if Clara had been caught stealing these scraps, she would have been beaten and her quilt would have been taken away. Most slaves wouldn’t have access to scraps of fabric, especially not to make a beautifully crafted quilt. The lack of materials and time to make something for appearance, was foolish. Better to use any materials on something practical, like a blanket that would keep you warm, instead of one to hang outside your house. Even more, how do slaves who have never been north know the directions to freedom?

<p>Bringing up another practical problem is the fact that the Underground Railroad is a network constantly in flux. It wasn’t as simple as always sending runaways to the same homestead, along the same roads, and hiding them in the same places. Instead, multiple balls were always up in the air. Say you are using a quilt to give runaways directions, but the path you sewed into the quilt is now covered in slave catchers. What do you do? Make another quilt? By the time you finish that, where you’re sending runaways has probably changed again. And these paths easily fluxed from day to hour.

<p>With these two ideas, the quilt code just simply doesn’t make sense.

<p>Possibly the most important part of this story is McDaniel’s oral histories herself. There are no mentions of quilt codes in slave narratives in the 1800s or during the public works projects of the 1930s. Why is it that this huge part of the Underground Railroad was never mentioned until the 1990s, a full 125 years after the end of the Civil War? No other oral histories have appeared to back up McDaniel’s stories, which are sadly, also full of holes.

<p>Unfortunately, this very romantic story from the Underground Railroad probably can never 100% be ruled out. Despite this, many of the quilt patterns cited in the Quilt Code weren’t invented until after the Civil War (some don’t appear until the 1930s), along with the information cited above, many scholars studying the Underground Railroad have all come to the same conclusion: The Quilt Code is an elaborate story told by a woman who owned a quilt shop that flourished after the publication of her story. This certainly makes things suspicious.

<p>Unfortunately, McDaniel passed away before “Hidden in Plain View” was published, so it is hard to ask her more questions. This story passing through 9 generations of family members and none of them using this Quilt Code to escape slavery also raises eyebrows. We cannot speak for McDaniel, but we can, as many historians do, find fault with the story. Perhaps one or two slaves did create a device to remember their way. Or perhaps a few abolitionists would mark their home with a quilt in the window for runaways to find from the last station. However, with no other documentation, it makes it difficult to corroborate the story.

<p>If you’d like more information on the Quilt Code, including people who have spent more time researching these stories and writing about them, check out these links:

<p>Quilt History (This one has amazing information on the break down and the defense and critique of “Hidden in Plain View” from the authors and other historians.)

<p>Quilting in America

<p>Giles Wright

<p>Harry Louis Gates Jr. 

<p>History Myths Debunked

Abolitionist=Underground Railroad: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

American Colonization Society Founders

<p>Many people believe that all abolitionists were part of the Underground Railroad. And, of course, it is easy to see why. Men like William Still or women like Harriet Tubman, or couples like the Rotches were all abolitionists and worked as station masters or conductors on the Underground Railroad. We all logically know that not all abolitionists were working with the Underground Railroad. We know that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t hiding slaves in the basement of the White House, and we can guarantee that Thomas Jefferson, for all his talk of abolition, never freed his own slaves, so why would he free other people’s? But there was quite a bit of division within the abolitionist movement on what should actually be done with freedom seekers.

<p>To break this down simply, the abolitionist movement fought to abolish slavery. That’s all an abolitionist is. While many of us say, that’s all it needs to be, just like today’s political climate, it was never that easy.

<p>Many abolitionists believed that slavery had to be abolished through legal means. That meant petitioning the state and federal government to change laws to end slavery. This is essentially what the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment did. These abolitionists believed that if they petitioned and told the horrors of slavery enough, eventually the government would make the change.

<p>Other abolitionists believed in ending slavery by whatever means necessary. These are more likely to be the people like Nat Turner, leading rebellions, kidnapping or purchasing slaves to get them to freedom, or simply offering their homes and services to hide runaways. They believed that the government was morally wrong, and many believed God would overlook them breaking earthly laws to follow His Law. Thomas and Charity Rotch would have been similar to these abolitionists, but they are always very careful about their work, and definitely not as rebellious as some.

<p>Neither of these two groups really tackle what happens when the slaves are free. Many Irish building the canals here in Ohio were strongly pro-slavery, fearing that freed slaves would move north and take their jobs! Many abolitionists simply focused on education for freed slaves, to make them productive and upstanding members of society.

<p>Perhaps the most interesting, and often forgotten, segment of the abolitionist movement was the American Colonization Society. The four men above were all early organizers. Like the other two abolitionist groups above, some of the ACS believed that slavery should be abolished legally. Others believed that it had to be dismantled by any means necessary. Others simply just didn’t believe that slavery was an economic reality to build a nation on. However, they did unite on the idea of reparations. This is a politically charged word in modern times, as it was in the early 1800s when Thomas and Charity were around.

<p>How do you pay people back for centuries of unpaid labor? Their solution: Liberia. In 1821-22, the ACS founded the colony of Liberia for free American blacks to settle and be able to live full lives. From 1821-1847, thousands of free blacks moved to Liberia, and then created an independent nation. By 1867, ACS moved 13,000 Americans to Liberia.

<p>These are only a few differences separating abolitionists. We mentioned in an earlier blog post that the abolitionist movement is the first interracial movement in the U.S. However, that doesn’t mean the movement was without it’s differences. Just like today, there were different ideas on how to best end slavery and what to do after. Men and women would gather, as today to argue the best course of action. And, like today, it seems that they chose to splinter off into groups of like minded people instead of opening a dialogue. While all had the same end goal, few seemed to be able to agree on how to reach it.

What is Juneteenth? #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—-

<p>To many people, slavery ended on January 1st, 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. On that day, there was much celebration, as Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation stated ” I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

<p>Unfortunately, the Emancipation Proclamation itself did not end slavery. This was a decree to end slavery in the states rebelling against the Federal government. In fact, it was a whole two and a half years later that slaves in Texas were freed when it came to Major General Gordon Granger’s attention that their owners were ignoring the Emancipation Proclamation, and the 6 month old 13th Amendment. On that day, June 19, 1865, the Major General issued General Order Number 3. This is a rather unassuming name for a piece of legislation that is so important in our country’s fight for freedom.

<p>”The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are freed. This involves an absolutely equality of personal rights and rights of property, between former masters and slaves and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor.” (General Order No. 3)

<p>This day became known as Juneteenth in celebration. For many African-Americans, this is their Independence Day. Frederick Douglass spoke out against the 4th of July, claiming that Independence Day was not a day of independence for his people, who would still be enslaved for another 12 and a half years from the time of the 4th of July speech he delivered. “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony.”

<p>Unfortunately, most people know little about Juneteenth. And even fewer want to recognize that it is an Independence Day. It is an Independence Day for half of our nation who finally received their promised right to be treated as equals. For a country who prides itself on our ideas of freedom and equality for all, it is a shame that few people know the story of Juneteenth, or celebrate it.

<p>Juneteeth has seen a resurgance of celebrations surrounding it in modern times. People are recognizing that it is a day to come together and celebrate the freedom that was so hard won. It also remembers a time when our own prejudices against someone who simply looked, spoke, or acted different was enough to make them inhuman and take away their rights. It is possible that is part of the reason Juneteenth has seen such amazing support. We want to be a united people, who accept and support everyone, and never take those steps backwards to dividing us.

<p>On this Juneteenth, celebrate with your family! This year, Juneteenth and Father’s Day coincide, so many families are already gathering. Use this family time to focus on dad, but also on how far we have come in just 151 years since General Order No. 3 was given. Work to dispel myths and stereotypes, and encourage sensitive and open dialogue. Perhaps best, learn something new about the many African-Americans who made our country great. For many, without the protection of the 13th Amendment and the chance to simply have the same rights as others, we would not have made as much progress as we have today.

<p>Remember to always celebrate freedom, and always protect freedom.

Spirituals: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

McIntosh Counter Shouters

<p>The McIntosh County Shouters – Sign of the Judgement

<p>Throughout the years, spirituals have become synonymous with the slavery experience here in the United States. In almost any film that takes place during the Civil War, the Antebellum South, and focusing, or even just mentioning, slavery, music has become a central theme. There are many beautiful and haunting spirituals that come from slave communities, including the tradition of ring shout (see the link above to the McIntosh County Shouters who keep this beautiful style of music alive).

<p>Unfortunately, because of the strong connection between slavery, the African-American community, and music, spirituals are now being connected with the Underground Railroad. There are often rumors of certain songs, the most common being “Steal Away” or “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” being signals and coded messages for the Underground Railroad.

<p>It is possible that these songs were used as quiet forms of communication. Music is a great way to lament or encourage others. In the National Park’s Network to Freedom’s new pamphlet “Freedom is Coming: Songs of Freedom, Resistance, and the Underground Railroad,” Richard Newman writes that “somehow the slave community never lost sight of the light of freedom.” Looking at spirituals, there are often references to sweet freedom, thanking the Lord, and overcoming strife and fears.

<p>However, many of the spirituals that we associate with slavery, have no documented connection. Unfortunately, because many of the spirituals sang by slaves have had their authors lost to time, it is nearly impossible to know when these songs originally were created. Many songs aren’t documented for the first time until towards the end of the Civil War, and some not even until decades after, so it makes it very difficult to track the origins.

<p>It is important to remember that music is important in the slavery narrative. Music was a way to bring people together. There are stories of slaves raising their voices in song while one of their own was beat. Not only did this bring them together in solidarity, to bring strength to their friend, but also to drowned out their cries so family and children wouldn’t have to hear. Others would sing simply to support one another. It is easier to come together in song, especially working songs that help everyone keep pace, than to simply leave one another on their own.

<p>Many popular spirituals were feared by slave owners, so much that they would outlaw them on plantations. The lyrics and spirit behind some were more dangerous than Union troops in the Civil War. The song “Go Down, Moses” about Moses leading his people to freedom, was considered so dangerous, that it was actually called “Song of the Contrabands” before emancipation. Powerful words encouraged slaves to always be looking forward and hoping for a better tomorrow. “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” is another song that supposedly brought Abraham Lincoln to tears with it’s powerful lament of slavery.

<p>While we can’t say for certain if any songs were used as coded messages for the Underground Railroad, it does seem unlikely that the stories we hear about deeply encrypted messages would have happened. Runaways would have wanted very few people to know about their plans, so singing “Steal Away” or “Follow the Drinking Gourd” (who’s first documentation isn’t until the 1920s), would have been very foolish. It wouldn’t have taken too long for plantation owners, and overseers, especially black overseers, to figure out the message. Even without those hidden meanings, spirituals strong message of faith, hope, and freedom were terrifying enough for any slave owners who heard voices raised together in their own fields.

Hidden Rooms and Secret Tunnels: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Stop in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th.

<p>Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

“Where’s the tunnels?” is one of the most common questions asked of Underground Railroad sites. Not many exist. There are no tunnels at Spring Hill, nor at most Underground Railroad sites.

<p>Most fugitives slaves would have ran under the cover of darkness, not in tunnels. And stations on the Underground Railroad often didn’t have hidden rooms in the basement, attic, or garrets. The most important thing to think about when discussing tunnels or secret rooms is to ask “how practical these would have been?” Or more precisely, how impractical they would have been? How much work would have to be done to dig tunnels? What would have been done with all that dirt? What about the engineering required to build tunnels? It’s not as if you can just dig a hole and it will stay up.

<p>What about the amount of work to build hidden rooms into your house? You have to find a place to build that room, and then actually build it yourself. That means that everyone who helped build your house would know where your secret room is. What about if that should ever be found? It would be a smoking gun that you were doing something illegal. In fact, a book looking into the history of Huron County, Ohio has found that most of the homes with secret rooms were not part of the Underground Railroad. Instead, those hidden rooms were used during Prohibition for smugglers moving alcohol illegally through the state.

<p>Spring Hill, with our own “sugar closet” that was used to hide runaways, according to oral histories passed down to us from the Wales family, does seem to contradict what we’re writing. The thing to remember with our sugar closet is that it is simply a storage place put into all houses, under the roof eaves. This could simply have been used for storage, just like the other hiding place on the property: the Spring House Loft. These all have practical purposes, just like our back staircase, which would have been used as a servants stair for the girls working in the house.

<p>At Spring Hill, we often hear stories about the Rankin House and an unnamed station in Cleveland having tunnels that lead down to their respective bodies of water. Unfortunately, these stories are completely untrue. The Rankin House has no tunnels, the site manager emphatically agreed when we contacted her.

<p>Most “hidden tunnels” that have been found are actually linked to various other parts of our history. The Lakewood Historical Society took a look at their old tunnels that were found in the early 1900s. Past director, Mazie Adams wrote an article about the tunnels and came to the conclusion that their tunnel was actually a small culvert, like many that dotted the city. These would have been used to drain water away from the roads, and was much too small for runaways to crawl through.

<p>Most important to remember, especially in Ohio, is that most homes would have been built over and near springs or small streams, just like Spring Hill. This would have provided fresh water for the family, and the water would have needed to be diverted in different ways, using culverts or cisterns so that water could be accessed inside the house.

<p>Famed Underground Railroad scholar, Wilbur Seibert bases most of his information these hidden tunnels on the tunnels found in Lakewood, now disproved by local historians and disagreed on by national scholars.

<p>It can be disappointing to many that the hidden tunnels found around the country don’t prove anything, including many of our director’s family members who want to tie an old family mill to the Underground Railroad. However, it is our responsibility to tell history honestly and without embellishment. When you hear stories like these, just ask yourself a simple question: How practical is this?

Families Escaping Together: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

running photo

<p>Almost all of the artwork showing the Underground Railroad focuses on families running together. Mother, father, and children leaving to gain their freedom. Unfortunately, very few families actually ran together, or were even reunited once they reached freedom.

<p>A majority of runaways were actually young men, usually in their teens or 20s, who usually ran away on their own. Most people believe that there’s safety in numbers, but the opposite was true when it comes to running. Silence and being able to hide in small places was key to avoid capture. The fewer people, the less likely someone was to make a noise or give them away.

<p>According to John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, as Blight summarizes, “80 percent of these fugitives were young males in their teens and twenties who generally absconded alone. Indeed, [between 1838 and 1860] 95 percent fled alone. Young slave women were much less likely to run away because of their family and child-rearing responsibilities. Entire families with children did attempt flights to freedom, but such instances were rare.”

<p>It was also easier for young men to run. Women would be having children at a very young age, so being pregnant or having a small child made it very difficult to run (no matter what Eliza from Uncle Tom’s Cabin would have you believe). Daughters would often be caring for their younger siblings from a young age, which made them reluctant to run, as would it make mothers unwilling to leave their children.

<p>Even after the Civil War and Emancipation, mothers were worried about leaving the plantations. This is not because they felt they were treated well or out of loyalty to the family that they had worked for. Instead, they often hoped that their children and family members that had been sold away from them would be able to come back and find them again.

<p>Occasionally families or couples would run together, like George and Edy Duncan did. However, these families are few and far between. Instead, families would often be separated and rarely be reunited, even after Emancipation. Most would run solo, or in small groups. Here at Spring Hill, we only have recordings of groups coming through, all three defying the normal odds. George and Edy Duncan, a young couple, ran together, but came through Spring Hill separately, with George running by himself first to find someone to help Edy escape. A group of two men and a young boy come through Spring Hill according to a letter Charity writes her sister Hannah, with another man appearing a few hours later, trying to catch up to the other three. Lastly, and the one that defies standards the most, was a woman who stopped at Spring Hill with two children.

<p>Unfortunately, besides George and Edy Duncan, we don’t know these people’s stories. We don’t know if they ever made it to freedom, or if the Rotches were the only people to assist them.

<p>However, we do know that their stories are unique. According to scholar John Michael Vlach, one abolitionist, W.H. Lyford in 1896 reported that he could not recall “any fugitives ever being transported by anyone, they always had to pilot their own canoe, with the little help that they received,” suggesting that “the greatest number of fugitives were self-emancipating individuals who, upon reaching a point in their lives when they could no longer tolerate their captive status, finally just took off for what had to be a better place.”

Well-Intentioned White Abolitionists Men Ran the Show: #UGRRMyth

The Underground Railroad is an amazing story with people coming together to fight for one basic American right: freedom. Unfortunately, over the years, the idea of the Underground Railroad has become romantic and surrounded by myths. It makes it next to impossible for historians to weed through everything, let alone the the average American citizen.

<p>Leading up to our annual Underground Railroad Experience, we are putting some of those myths to rest. Check in each week to read about a widely spread myth and the truth behind it.

<p>And don’t forget to mark your calendar for our Underground Railroad Experience on Saturday, June 25th. Check out our website for more information or call Spring Hill Historic Home at 330-833-6749. Tickets go on sale to the public on Wednesday, June 1st.

<p>—–

<p>Our unofficial slogan here at Spring Hill is that we are teaching a shared history (our director is constantly saying this). The Underground Railroad is perhaps one of the first, if not the first interracial movement in the United States.

<p>One of the dangers of places like Spring Hill is the amount of time spent on Station Masters like Thomas and Charity Rotch. To many people, the Underground Railroad is a movement where white abolitionists, especially Quakers, help freedom seeking blacks. Despite Harriet Tubman being the face of the Underground Railroad, this myth persists.

<p>Instead, the early abolitionist movement has blacks and whites working together to end the institution that they hate. It isn’t until after the first quarter of the 1800s that blacks and whites are forming separate abolitionist societies. Even then, there are still many interracial organizations.

<p>While Quakers were very important in the formation of the abolitionist movement, they are not the only religion supporting the end of slavery. Presbyterians, Universalists, and Congregationalists were all supporters of the abolitionist movement here in the United States. These denominations were very welcoming of black members and churches (for example, the African American church in Colonial Williamsburg is a Presbyterian Church).

<p>While men and women like the Grimke Sisters, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe were leaders of the abolitionist movement, there were also many black leaders of the movement. Levi Coffin, Sojourner Truth, William Still, and Harriet Tubman led the abolitionist movement, often in tandem with white abolitionists. These men and women could not have ended slavery without coming together.

<p>William Still himself sheltered almost 650 runaways in his Philadelphia home, including his own brother! This was doubly dangerous for Still, being the son of runaways himself. He could have easily been captured and ended up like his friend Samuel Burris, who was sold into slavery. Thankfully, Still and other members of their abolitionist group raised money, and a white member purchased Burris at auction in Delaware, giving him back his freedom.

<p>The abolitionist movement is not only an interracial movement, but also the first movement where women are taking leadership roles. The Grimke Sisters, Sojourner Truth, and Maria W. Stewart were all women, of various races, who stood up and spoke out against slavery. Women were hosting fundraisers by selling quilts, baked goods, and various other things to fund the abolitionist societies of which they were members.

<p>It is through the abolitionist movement that women and  blacks start to show their leadership capabilities. Out of the abolitionist movement comes the women’s rights movement, with leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott being staunch abolitionists, and Fredrick Douglas attended the Seneca Falls Convention to speak in favor of women’s rights.

<p>It’s important to remember that the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad couldn’t have happened without a shared support of one another. Men and women, whites and blacks, and various classes all risked a lot for this movement, and all provided different backgrounds and understandings needed to make this movement a success.

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