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The Underground Railroad In Hudson County - Part Eleven

By Alexander Maclean

Edited by GET NJ, Copyright 2002

From Jersey City, the escaped slaves were taken to the Hudson River Passenger Station.

The absence of records makes research along this line of inquiry difficult. For the most diligent search fails to reveal anyone who was engaged in aiding the runaways. They have all gone to their reward and, presumably, have been joined by those who benefited by their assistance and sympathy.

It is known that at many points between New Brunswick and Jersey City there were men and women who watched for danger and whose warnings caused delay or divergence. There were many barns along the route that afforded shelter, but how the warnings were conveyed, and by whom, must remain unknown. It is probable that many of these shelters were similar to that provided in my father's barn. This was off the main line, about three miles from Newark. It had a sleeping place in the loft behind the hay, supplied with horse blankets and hay for bedding. When the retreat was in use, a ladder was placed in a sheltered position against the back of the barn, thus offering a means of escape if enemies entered below. This shelter was used when danger at the Passaic or Hackensack bridges made a detour of Newark desirable. The fugitive arrived at the barn sometime during the night, frequently without notice. Food was carried into the loft very early in the morning, and the children on the farm were notified to keep away from the barn during the day. They soon learned when there was "activity" in the barn, and were early impressed with the need for knowing nothing about the presence of these stange visitors.

After sleeping the most of the day in strict seclusion, the fugitives were brought to Jersey City. There John Everett or Peter James Phillips, or some agent of theirs, took them in charge.

From Jersey City, the escaped slaves were taken to the Hudson River Passenger Station at the corner of Church and Chambers Streets, just in time for a night train for Albany. If this station were too closely watched, the fugitives were taken to a house on West Broadway where Lewis Tappan and his brother Arthur conducted a Sunday School for adult African-Americans. This afforded temporary shelter until it was safe to travel.

Part Twelve

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