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The Underground Railroad In Hudson County - Part Nine

By Alexander Maclean

Edited by GET NJ, Copyright 2002

From Princeton to New Brunswick was considered dangerous, because spies and slave catchers watched the bridge over the Raritan River.

The most important route (because the most travelled) began at Camden, where Rev. T. C. Oliver received the fugitives from Philadelphia, a convergent point for many routes extending far south into slave area. Mr. Oliver in person or by deputy took the escaped slaves by the river road to Burlington, known on the route as Station A. There John Coleman, Robert Evans, Enoch Middleton, and Samuel Stevens provided food, shelter and transportation. They also provides clothing as required, especially shoes. Many of the fugitives arrived barefoot or nearly so, or else had the yellow split-leather shoes which were provided for slaves in the South. These shoes were not only cheap, but served to distinguish the slave.

From Burlington to Bordentown through Mercer County to Princeton, there were many Quaker farmers all ready to afford food and shelter in case of bad weather or pursuit. The principal agents in this section were J.J. Earl, Elias Conove and Bush B. Plumley.

From Princeton to New Brunswick was a short stage, but it was considered dangerous because spies and slave catchers watched the bridge over the Raritan River and notified their employers at points beyond. Jonathan Freedlyn, and Adam Sichler were the main station agents in New Brunswick to whom the runaways were delivered. Cornelious Cornell, who lived near the bridge, acted as a scout for the line. Hewarned those who forwarded the fugitives of the presence of spies or danger.

In describing this section of the route, Francis B. Lee in his history of New Jersey said -- "North of the Raritan River the system of the Underground Railway was diversified. Of minor routes, some passed around Metuchen and Rahway leading to Elizabethport. However, after the slave chasers gathered there so thickly, the extension went around Newark and thence to New York."

When there was too much risk on the bridge over the raritan, the wagons were sent down to Perth Amboy or skiffs were used for crossing the river below the bridge. This detour made fresh stations, but their locations and the owners are now unknown.

Part Ten

Hudson County Facts  by Anthony Olszewski
Hudson County, New Jersey is a place of many firsts - including genocide and slavery.
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