News and Tribune

Floyd County

February 26, 2013

New Albany Bicentennial: Underground Railroad Part 2

NEW ALBANY — New Albany resident Pam Peters literally wrote the book on the local history of our city’s involvement in the Underground Railroad. Her 2001 work, “The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana” documented her search and the identities of this important time’s unknown heroes.

In last week’s column, readers learned about the basics of the Underground Railroad in this area. But it was the people who made the movement so successful, especially the black community.

The oral history that still reverberates through the halls of the now Second Baptist Church only offers a whisper of the story. Years and years of extensive review of microfilmed newspapers and census records provided the proof Peters needed of New Albany’s involvement in the movement. In her research, she found numerous reports of people prosecuted for hiding or transporting freedom seekers. 

“People tend to think of the Underground Railroad as this complicated system of people reaching out saying ‘look, here we are, come and find us.’ It couldn’t have happened without the slave running first and having the guts to do it. People forget about that,” Peters said. “The key to the Underground Railroad is the slave choosing to run and then the African American people sticking their nose out and be willing to lose their life, lose their savings.”

Besides physically participating in the escapes, the black community also supported the cause by keeping the secret. At this time, blacks lived predominantly in the West Union section of town, the area near Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services. This isolation and the sheer number of having so many free blacks in one space helped hide escaped slaves more easily.

“The black community as a whole looked the other way. They knew if somebody got across the river and was hiding in the community. They knew they were a stranger. And they probably knew often that these were runaway slaves looking for a safe way to get out of town. They just didn’t turn them in,” Peters said. 

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Floyd County
LOCAL MAGAZINES
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.

SPECIAL CONTENT
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
2013 Photos of the year


Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.