Germantown Tour of Underground Railroad Sites-Saturday October 11, 2014

We will gather at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street at 12:30pm and the bus will leave at 1:00pm. Discussion will take place on the bus as well as at the sites. We should be back at AAMP by 5pm.

African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch St,

Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 – 1876, presented by PECO recounts the stories of and contributions made by people of African descent in Philadelphia during the tumultuous years following the founding of our nation. Through this exhibit visitors will learn who the people were, how they lived and worked, and their unheralded impact on our nation. This includes a narrated, interactive timeline that highlights a sequence of images and documents, all drawn from the historical record, that illuminate and explore topics of relevance.

Fair Hill Burial Grounds, 2900 Germantown Ave

Fair Hill Burial Ground is a historic cemetery in the Fairhill neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Founded by the Religious Society of Friends in 1703, it fell into disuse until the 1840s when it was revived by the Hicksite Quaker community of Philadelphia, which played an important role in the abolition and early women’s rights movements. The cemetery is currently operated by the Fair Hill Burial Corporation, which is owned by Quakers and neighborhood community members.

The Underground Railroad / Harriet Tubman Mural, 2900 Germantown Ave

Sam Donovan, assisted by students from Congreso de Latinos Unidos, completed The Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad mural in 2007, located at 2900 Germantown Avenue across the street from Fair Hill Burial Ground, to commemorate the life and accomplishments of not only the heroic Tubman but also many others who participated in the Underground Railroad’s activities. The mural includes images of Lucretia Mott, Robert Purvis, and Henry “Box” Brown among others. Some of these individuals are buried in nearby Fair Hill Burial Ground.

The Thones Kunders House and the First Protest Against Slavery, 5109 Germantown Ave

The Thones Kunders House was the site of the first meetings of the Society of Friends in Germantown. And it is where the first protest against slavery in the New World was signed in 1688.

Mennonite Meeting House, 6119 Germantown Ave

The Mennonites originated in 1525 in Zurich as the third wing of the Reformation. They took their name from Menno Simons, an early leader. Mennonites advocated freedom of conscience and only baptized adults who professed a personal faith. They were vehemently against violence and warfare, a doctrine that resulted in many a Mennonite martyr. They spread their beliefs throughout Europe and then to America. In 1683 thirteen Mennonite and Quaker families sailed from Krefeld, Germany led by Francis Daniel Pastorius, and landed in Pennsylvania. The first permanent settlement of Mennonites in the new world was in Germantown. Later Mennonites moved westward to Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, and beyond. But Germantown was their first home.

Johnson House, 6306 Germantown Ave

Built in 1768 for John Johnson. This was home to three generations of a Quaker family who worked to abolish slavery and improve living conditions for freed African Americans. In the 1850s this house was a station on the Underground Railroad. Here and in smaller buildings on the property, men and women escaping slavery found shelter in their way to freedom.

Cliveden, 6401 Germantown Ave

Cliveden, is one of America’s most well-preserved historic sites, the 1767 building contains stellar furniture and decorative art and remains one of the nation’s best-documented and least-altered colonial houses. Well-known as the scene of a Revolutionary War battle, Cliveden’s story spans four centuries of American history. Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and its first Bishop, wrote in the first sentence of his autobiography that he was born enslaved to Benjamin Chew. The Chew papers contain letters written by enslaved Africans that give a more detailed description of the hardships and heartaches they endured.  

Plymouth Meeting Friends Meeting House, Germantown Ave & Butler Pike.

Plymouth Meeting Quaker meetinghouse was built in 1708 and is surrounded by a dozen very quaint, old houses. , “The entire village was abolitionist. . . . It’s the most intact Underground Railroad village in my experience,” says Charles L. Blockson, author of  Hippocrene Guide to the Underground Railroad. The meetinghouse and practically every home and store in the crossroads hamlet was used to hide runaway slaves. Those who found shelter in Plymouth Meeting were routed five miles up Germantown Pike to Norristown or into Bucks County, where their journey continued to New York State and Canada. All the buildings still stand, and in some cases, descendants of those courageous Quaker abolitionists still live in the same houses. Perhaps the most activist family in the village was the Corsons, whose members were constantly sticking their necks out, risking arrest and violence, to aid slaves on the run.

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