How Springboro Quakers saved a black man from being lynched

It is well-known that Quakers worked tirelessly to end slavery in the United Kingdom and United States.

Quakers (also known as Friends) in the Miami Valley definitely did their part.

Take the following incident pulled from info in the Dayton Daily News archives for example.

A group of Springboro Quakers sprung to action after seeing a Virginia man traveling through the woods west of town with a group of slaves in 1840.

They surrounded and restrained the man while his slaves ran away.

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The man later filed charges, and federal marshals arrested 17 Springboro residents, including Fred Wilson, a free black man not involved in the incident.

The white defendants got off with fines, but Wilson was taken for trial to Franklin, a pro-slavery town at the time, and Wilson’s Quaker friends believed he would be lynched there.

As Wilson was being led at night from the squire’s office in Franklin, a jailer held a lantern near his face to point him out to a mob that gathered outside.

But Wilson’s friends surrounded him, starting enough commotion for him to crouch down and escape to a horse the friends placed in the jimson weed out back. Tunnels ran all along Springboro’s Main Street and between Main Street and a nearby creek during the height of the Underground Railroad.

Springboro is thought to have more Underground Railroad depots in and around the city than anywhere else in the state. The Springboro Area Historical Society has documented 27. Remnants of hiding places and tunnels still exist in private houses and businesses there.

The city says more than 4,000 people were helped to freedom there over 50 years.

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