Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Underground Railroad On the Trail

Robert and Nancy Cole Newell home
Florida, Ohio

As you are walking or biking along the Miami Wabash and Erie Canal Tow Path Trail through Florida Ohio you will notice a greek revival house built between 1834 and 1838.   This site served as an  Underground Railroad Station.

Robert and Nancy Cole Newell bought the land in 1834.  Friends of  Freedom Society, Inc. and Ohio Underground Railroad Association say  the Newell's built their house around 1838.  It served as a trading  post and traveler's inn.  A jail was attached to the rear of the building.  Robert Newell had a blacksmith shop next to the home.  The home was an Underground Railroad Station for runaway slaves.  The fugitives were housed in the jail or, when the cells were full, were  sent across the street to the home of Dr. George Patterson or Dr. Parry.

Served as a trading post and traveler's inn

Nancy Newell often rode rode with the wagon driver when transporting  the fugitives.  The Miami, Wabash and Erie Canal was in operation  from 1843 until 1913. Occasionally Robert Newell would make arrangements with a canal boat captain to help transport the fugitives to Maumee. Robert often paid the fugitives to help him in the blacksmith shop. Nancy married Robert's cousin, Heman Newell after Robert's death.  They moved to Richland Township in Defiance County Ohio where they  also ran an Underground Railroad Station.  For more information and  photos go to

Article and Photos submitted by Bob Morrison, Napoleon, Ohio