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New Albany Bicentennial

February 26, 2013

New Albany Bicentennial: Underground Railroad Part 2

(Continued)

NEW ALBANY —

In the newspapers, she found heroes whose names had been lost to the ages; like Sarah Ann Lucas, a free woman who stood up for a slave named Amanda in court and swore the woman was free. Something went wrong, and the lie was discovered. 

Other articles tell of Moses Bard, a New Albany barber, and local boatman Shadrach Henderson who were implicated in transporting and hiding two slaves. After the initial report detailing their crimes and sentences, Peters could find no other mention of the two men’s fate. 

Accomplished black businessmen like George Washington Carter also can be tied to the Underground Railroad. It wasn’t unusual for free black men with money to purchase slaves at auctions in Louisville, only to then liberate them. Carter, too, was charged in the above crime, but Peters said she believed that since he was affluent, the courts let him off with only a fine.

Carter had ties to many in the community, but he especially kept black boatman in his inner circle. Although people used the steamboat industry as a justification for the continuance of slavery, this very institution also gave an escape mechanism for those fleeing its grasps. Some hid in the ships boughs, while boating itself taught critical skills that increased the likelihood of a successful crossing.

“One of the keys to the Underground Railroad here was that so many of the African American young men worked on the river. They knew the river. They had contact with slaves and free people,” Peters said. 

In addition, she discovered a web linking the popular barber and land owner to other known abolitionist. Three of his children went to school in Canada, giving him ample reasons to make the trek to the country perhaps with a few passengers. As a barber, he was known to have cut the hair of white members of the Town Clock Church, allowing for messages to be easily relayed. 

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