Underground Railroad

Doreen Stratton—Presenter




A quick overview

In 1482, Portuguese explorers arrived on the West Coast of Africa (today it is Ghana). They named their settlement Elmina, constructed as a massive stone fort looking out on the Atlantic Ocean. The settlers search for gold and timber expanded after they discovered Africans.

The First Africans in America

In 1619 the Portuguese loaded around 20 Africans on the ship— Sau Joao Bautista.  English pirates on The White Lion raided the Portuguese ship in the Gulf Coast (now Mexico) creating the English as the first Europeans of record transporting Africans to America.

The Trading of the Enslaved

By 1770 the state of Delaware was comprised of 20-25% Negroes. Many attempts to Freedom by the enslaved at first, failed, with few reaching Freedom in the North and in Canada. By1845 the Underground Railroad was successful in taking fugitive slaves to Freedom.

Bucks County Quakers

(The following information about Quakers is from a manuscript written by Jesse Crooks, multi-generational Quaker resident of Solebury-New Hope area)

Matthew Hughes was the first Quaker to declare slavery evil. At their annual meeting on August 5, 1776, minutes in part read:

“The Friends who had been some time past appointed to labour (sic) with such as kept Slaves, … all … Members of this Meeting who had Negroes … under their Hands & Seals…released all Claim to them and Slaves …”

By the middle of 1800, some fugitive slaves had made their way to Freedom, reaching the Mt. Gilead Church on Buckingham Mountain.

Below are some of the Quakers and Abolitionists, Conductors and Anti-Slavery Activists sheltering fugitive slaves in Buckingham area:

William Johnson; Buckingham Friends; John E. Kinderdine; Solebury Meeting House; Black Fan Farm; the Magee House; the William Johnson House. Moses Eastburn Sr. also harbored fugitive slaves; and later became Director of the Poor in 1820. His son Moses Eastburn Jr, donated the money to build the second Mount Moriah Church.

Jonathan P. Magill, participated in Solebury Twp’s UGRR. His son, Edward H. Magill wrote “Underground Railroad in Bucks County” in an 1898 essay:  

When Men Were Sold, Reminiscences of the underground Railroad in Bucks County and Its Managers”.