Underground Railroad Elkhart County

Bartholomew, Henry S. K. Pioneer History of Elkhart County, Indiana, with Sketches and Stories. Chapter 45, "The Underground Railroad." Goshen, IN: Goshen Printery, 1930. Pp. 273-76.

  • written after "several years" of investigation, including conversation with son of Charles L. Murray—Gordon N. Murray, editor of the Nappanee News.
  • 273, names only Owen Coffin in Washington Twp.
  • 273-4, names Abner Blue, William Martin, James G. Mitchell, Henry G. Davis, Charles L. Murray in Jefferson Twp., citing locations of their residences.
  • 274-5, stresses Murray as most important
  • 301, "in early life [B. F. Cathcart] was a rank abolitionist"

__________.  Stories and Sketches of Elkhart County. Nappanee, IN: E.V. Publishing, 1936.

  • scattered references to relevant people.

__________. "'Underground Railway' Station Disappears in Gardner Fire." Goshen Daily Democrat, Feb. 23, 1927.

  • On Charles L. Murray residence, plus two first-person reminiscences by his daughter and one by his son.
  • HSK recalls Murray on Underground Railroad in public presentation.

Coffin, Levi. Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad . . . Cincinnati: Western Tract Society, 1876.

  • 168-69, Levi Coffin had direct contact with Friends in Cass County, Michigan
  • 366-73, Coffin gives detailed account of slave-catcher incident in Cass County
  • Genealogical evidence shows that Levi Coffin and Owen Coffin, of Bristol, were third cousins once removed. Their family lines were one (Owen) or two (Levi) generations removed from residence in Nantucket, Massachusetts. Coffin's nephew Micajah White moved to Milford (on SR 15, Kosciusko Co.) in 1827 from North Carolina, as had also Levi Coffin's family. (See Heighway in Preserving Indiana, Summer/Fall 2001, p. 5). A first cousin of Levi's lived in Fort Wayne.

Crenshaw, Gwendolyn. Bury me in a free land: The Abolitionist Movement in Indiana: 1816-1865. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau, 1993.

  • 30, names Jesse Adams, Abner Blue, B. F. Cathcart, William Martin, C. L. Murray on "the Bristol Road." Erroneously says the Murray residence was the last stop before Michigan.
  • 30, cites Silver Lake, Goshen, Bristol route.
  • derived probably from Bartholomew and Windle.

Dakin, Esse Bissell. "The Underground Railroad," South Bend Tribune Daily, April 25, 1899. rpt. St. Joseph Valley Record 1:1 (February 1988), 11 pp. Publication of the Northern Indiana Historical Society.

  • the earliest documentation (1899) of Elkhart County abolition activity.
  • 3, the author called upon B. F. Cathcart and gives first-hand reminiscences by him and his wife.
  • 3-5, an account of "the famous Bristol trial" of Judson and the Kentucky slave-catcher
  • 3, names the route from Fountain City to Winchester, Marion, Wabash, Silver Lake, Goshen, Bristol, Michigan—essentially SR 15 from Wabash to Bristol.
  • 5, regards that as the "direct road" and via Elkhart and South Bend as less direct.

Deahl, Anthony. A Twentieth Century and Biographical Record of Elkhart County, Indiana. Chicago: Lewis, 1905.

"Discover Your Family Story." Ancestry.com.

  • Coffin family genealogy.

Furlong, Patrick J. "Northern Indiana vs. the Slave-Catchers." Mimeographed paper presented at the Elkhart Public Library, Sept. 17, 1984. Furlong was professor of History at IUSouth Bend.

  • 18 pp., including survey of the Judson case tried in Elkhart County; shorter and less useful than Miller.
  • 18, on Elkhart County voters opposed to forbidding African-Americans to settle in Indiana.
  • [Goodall, Hurley C.] Underground Railroad: "The Invisible Road to Freedom through Indiana" as Recorded by the Works Progress Administration Writers Project. Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, [2001]. Pp. 37-40.
  • 38-39, information from Bartholomew but confirmed by Donald W. Lee in 1936

Heighway, David. "Micajah C. White: A Forgotten Victim of the Assault on Frederick Douglass." Preserving Indiana Summer/Fall 2001, p. 5.

  • Documents Owen Coffin’s niece living in Milford.

A History of Elkhart County, Indiana. Chicago: Charles C. Chapman, 1881.

  • 1159 – Biography of Benjamin F. Cathcart, mentions Owen Coffin
  • 1160 – Biography of James L. Congdon

Hout, Mrs. Daniel. "The Underground Railraod," in The Letter Box [of unnamed publication, n.p., n.d.].

  • report of mother's experience with fleeing blacks finding refuge in two places in Bristol
  • An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Elkhart County, Indiana. Chicago: Higgins, Belden, 1874.
  • detailed biographies of Charles L. Murray, Henry G. Davis, E. W. H. Ellis.

[Matthews, A.] History of Cass County, Michigan. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins, 1882. Chapters on "The Underground Railroad," "Penn Township," "Calvin Township."

  • Cass County Friends came from North Carolina via Wayne Co., Indiana
  • Levi Coffin visited Friends in Cass County; sent messenger there.
  • Cass County Friends were subject to Richmond, Indiana, Quaker district.
  • Kentuckians in slave-catching in Battle Creek, Michigan, retreated to Bristol, Indiana, then returned to Cass County to try to catch another runaway.

Miller, Jeanne S. "The Slave Catcher Trial in Elkhart County, Indiana." IUPUFW, December 1997.. Unpublished documented research paper.

  • 34 pp. plus appendices.
  • Appendix 1 is a timeline. App. 2 lists all people involved. App. 3, jury members.  App. 4, trial transcript.
  • This is the best, fullest researched account of the Elkhart County (Bristol) slave catcher trial, including comments on persons in and near Bristol involved in abolition activities. Throughout a critical, skeptical approach prevails. Detailed bibliography included.
  • Appendix contains transcripts of trial records.

Nicholson, William R., Janet Clinger and Jane Landis. "History of Bristol" [n.p. 1961]. Mimeographed. Miscellaneous collection of items.

  • quotes Windle's account of Emeline Sigerfoos (Charles Murray's daughter) recollection of aiding fugitive slaves.

Osborn, Charles. Journal of That Faithful Servant of Christ, Charles Osborn, Containing an Account of Many of His Travels and Labours in the Work of the Ministry and His trials and Exercises in the Service of the Lord, and His Defense of the Truth, as It Is in Jesus. Cincillati: Achilles Pub., 1854.

  • for insight into Quakers’ debate about participating in the Underground Railroad.
  • to understand the nature of the Young’s Prairie Quaker settlement
  • in chapter 21, Osborn’s separation from Richmond Meeting and his move to Michigan.

__________. “To Friends of Springfield Monthly Meeting, Indiana, Liverpool, England, Nov. 13, 1832.” The Irish Friend 4 (1841), p. 153.

Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs of Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana. Chicago: Goodspeed, 1893.

Prichard, James. “Report from Ramptown: Archaeologists Investigate Fugitive-Slave Community near Vandalia.” South Bend Tribune Oct. 4, 2005. (also online)

  • archaeology at 12 sites in Cass County conducted by Michael Nassaney of Western Michigan University
  • 1143 artifiacts, some on loan in museum at Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac.
  • Sondra Mose-Ursery, local historian.

Quinn, Angela M. 2001 The Underground Railroad and the Antislavery Movement in Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana. Indianapolis: Dept. of Natural Resources (ARCH), 2001.

  • 27, 149, names towns on "The Goshen Road" to Cass County, Michigan
  • 118, route US12 in Michigan, just above Indiana line, led to Detroit, Canada, freedom.
  • Levi Coffin's first cousin Jesse Lynch Williams lived in Fort Wayne by 1832.

Regan-Dinius, Jeannie. ”Escaping Slavery: Discovering Indiana’s Underground Railroad Connection.” Hoosier Genealogist Spring-Summer 2012, pp. 15-25.

  • discusses mistaken ideas about the Underground Railroad
  • gives advice on studying the Underground Railroad in local communities
  • lists the 31 Indiana Historical Bureau historical markers for the Underground Railroad to be found throughout Indiana

“Route Slip: Underground Railroad Tour.” 20 Underground Railroad sites on a tour beginning in South Bend and ending in Bristol. In archives file at Elkhart County Historical museum.

"Runaway Slaves," St. Joseph ValleyRecord 27 Aug. 1847, 2:3.

  • refers to Bristol and Cassopolis slave-catcher incidents.

Stiver, Joan Trindle. The Door in the Floor: An Underground Railroad Adventure. Bloomington, IN: Author House, 2008.  

  • an imaginative re-creation of an event at the Abner Blue house north of Goshen.

“Time Line of Slavery, Resistance and Freedom (1837-1893),” Michigan History, Arts and Libraries, http://www.michigan.gov/hal/0,1607,7-160-17451_18670_44390-158720--,00.html

  • under events for 1847 this website names Joseph A. Graves as one of the Kentuckians involved in the slave raid at Young’s Prairie, Michigan. Joseph A. Graves was also the principal named slave-catcher in the Bristol, Indiana, case.

"Underground Railroad," vertical file, Elkhart County Historical Society, Bristol, Indiana

  • map and historic and current photographs of sites associated with UNDERGROUND RAILROAD in Bristol
  • other clippings, etc.

"The Underground Railroad in Indiana: A Symposium." Fort Wayne: Lincoln Museum, 2000. [Notebook.] 

  • map of Underground Railroad routes in Midwest, showing both US33 and SR 15 to Goshen/Bristol.

Underground Railroad Research in Select Indiana Counties. Indianapolis: Dept. of Natural Resources, October 2003. [No chapter on Elkhart County.]

  • 5, Elkhart and LaGrange Counties in 1851 were the only ones in the state to vote against excluding blacks from settling in Indiana. [Actually, there were four counties that voted that way.]
  • 64, 73, 80 – by 1840 a "regular route" ran through Richmond through North Manchester (SR 13) and Leesburg (SR 15) to Cass County to Canada.

Weaver, Abraham E. A Standard History of Elkhart County, Indiana, 2 vols. Chicago: American Historical Society, 1916.

  • 276, biography of Charles L. Murray, editor of The Express newspaper in Goshen.
  • 397, B. F. Cathcart

Wilson, Benjamin C. "Kentucky Kidnappers, Fugitives and Abolitionists in Antebellum Cass County, Michigan. Michigan History 60:4 (Winter  ), 339-58. Rpt. Paul Finkelman, ed.. Articles on American Slavery, Vol. 1, Fugitive Slaves. (Garland 1989).

  • 418, names 7 of 13 slave-catchers in Battle Creek, MI, including John. L Graves, their retreat to Bristol, their attempt in Cass County on Aug. 16, 1847.

Windle, Helen Hibberd. The Underground Railroad in Northern Indiana, Based on Personal Narratives and Famous Incidents. South Bend: Author, 1939.

  • 4-6, "Last Station in Indian," based on Dakin (1899) above.
  • 4, recollection of aiding fugitive slaves by Emeline Sigerfoos (daughter of Charles Murray)

Young, Jean Ann, ed. Tales of a Hoosier Village: A History of Bristol, Indiana. Bristol: Wyndam Hall Press, 1988.

  • 34-37, Furlong's brief account of the Judson slave-catcher incident.
  • information on local families