The Columbia Historic Preservation Society’s Underground Railroad Origins Tour will walk in the very footsteps of many escaped slaves today, Sunday, 3 November as it travels from Columbia through Lancaster City to Christiana.
In Lancaster, the tour will visit the home of Thaddeus Stevens, as well as his grave at Shreiner-Concord Cemetery. It will also stop at the Fulton Opera House and St. James Episcopal Church.
Thaddeus Stevens was an attorney, a US Congressman and an anti-slavery activist. His home he shared with Lydia Hamilton Smith has been preserved. It is located at 45 S Queen Street. Stevens was the head attorney for the defense team representing those charged with treason for the Christiana Riot. Smith is a known conductor for the Underground Railroad.
The Shreiner – Concord Cemetery is at the corner of West Chestnut and Mulberry Streets. It was established by Martin Shreiner in 1836. Stevens requested to be buried here specifically as it was open to anyone of any race or religious backgrounds, as per the request of Shreiner. Stevens was buried here in 1868.
The Fulton Opera House, 12 N Prince Street, dates back to 1852.
The St James Episcopal Church, located at 103 N Duke Street, dates back to 1820. This Federal style church was built on the site of a stone church which dated back to 1752. The church would have looked much different in the days it was a stop along the Underground Railroad. The square tower was not built until 1880. The church was externally renovated in the 1870s and took on a Romanesque look. The graveyard, having been established around 1744, would have been there during the days the escaped slaves sought refuge.
As readers leave Lancaster City and make their way to Christiana, near the site of the Christiana Riot, recall the various modes slaves would use to travel. Some runaways did just that – run. Traveling on foot was the most common method. Often wagons were used. Some would travel by water or train. Others had them selves shipped North. Lancaster was part of Pennsylvania’s East Route. Slaves from Maryland, Delaware and other areas along the East Coast would travel through the East Route on their way to Philadelphia.
The tour runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, or to register, call 717-799-6093.
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