The Underground Railroad in Vermont
There are many stories about Vermont homes that once harbored escaping slaves. In 1995, at the request of the Vermont Legislature, a study was undertaken to examine 174 individuals and sites that were suggested to have assisted in the transport of African Americans seeking freedom. Lack of documentation, however, resulted in the identification of only 25 individuals as acting directly to shelter and aid fugitive slaves. For nine of these, there is evidence of fugitives staying with them or in an outbuilding that still exists today. And yet, because many Vermonters were involved in the anti-slavery movement, is is not surprising that another 32 individuals, families and structures (including 16 existing buildings) were identified as most likely involved in the Underground Railroad.
Today the best documented site – and open for visitors - is Rokeby Museum, where the Vermont African American Heritage Trail begins. Visitors can tour the home and farm of Quaker Abolitionists Rowland and Rachel Robinson and the mulitmedia exhibit "Free and Safe.” "Free and Safe" introduces Simon and Jesse, two fugitives from slavery who were sheltered at Rokeby in the 1830s. The exhibit traces their stories from slavery to freedom, introduces the abolitionist Robinson family who called Rokeby home for nearly 200 years, and explores the turbulent decades leading up to the Civil War.
To learn more about the documentation of Vermont Underground Railroad sites, download Friends of Freedom: The Vermont Underground Railroad Survey Report (State of Vermont, 1996.)