News and Tribune

Recent Local News

February 19, 2013

New Albany Bicentennial: The Underground Railroad part 1

Editor’s note: This is part of an ongoing series about the people and events that have shaped the 200-year history of New Albany. Read all installments by clicking on the bicentennial link under the “seasonal content” header at


NEW ALBANY — A town’s past can be a tricky thing. It’s easy to think all of New Albany’s history has been documented; every one of its stories has been written and preserved through the years. But some secrets remain as elusive now as they did when they were first whispered decades ago. 

For almost 150 years, our city’s involvement in the Underground Railroad had remained such a secret. New Albany resident Pam Peters decided to change that. In her 2001 book “The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana” — she documented the journey of the slaves who sought freedom and the local men and women who risked their lives supporting them. 

“I had a very naïve idea of what the Underground Railroad was until I really started studying it,” Peters said. “It was more of a movement. You have to think of it not in terms of tunnels and hiding places.”

With the Emancipation Proclamation pertaining only to Confederate states, slavery was allowed in Kentucky until the end of the Civil War. Yet only a mile away across the Ohio River, lie Indiana, a free-state since 1816. If Cincinnati had been a portal to freedom, wasn’t it likely New Albany had been a gateway as well? 

Little written correspondence has survived of these clandestine activities. Peters found her first documented cases of people in New Albany being arrested for abetting slaves as early as 1821, but she assumes the practice existed long before that instance.

“As long as there has been slavery, there have been slaves running away from it,” she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Recent Local News
Easter 2014 photos

Click on any photo to purchase it.

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
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
2013 Photos of the year

Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.