Taken from History of North Eastern Ohio, Vol. I, Book III;
written by John Struthers Stewart; Historical Publishing Co., 1935

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

All Ohio was in the conspiracy. Most of the Ohio River towns on the Ohio side had organized groups ready to take care of any slaves who crossed. The harbor towns on Lake Erie were all prepared at a moments notice to start the fugitive on the last lap of the journey to Canada and freedom. Traveling was, of course, done by night, one 'conductor' taking up the journey, one after another, and great ingenuity was brought to play in the invention of hiding places by day.

On the south side of the Mahoning River, about a mile and a half above Lowellville, on the edge of the little early settlement of Mount Nebo was a brick house which was an Underground Railroad station. In this house, as is very common plan of domestic architecture, the stairway to the second story was directly over the cellar steps. A stranger who went "down cellar" might have noticed that above him was a sealed flooring that completely closed the space under the stairway. The ceiling was only apparent, for it was really a trap door with carefully concealed hinges. In this narrow enclosure, many a slave spent a day, while his pursuers searched the premises.

There s no doubt as to the legal duty of the local authorities under the Fugitive Slave Law, to apprehend and hold any escaping slave until his master could arrange for his return to captivity. But one may search the court records of eastern Ohio in vain to find an instance of any conviction for this peculiar crime. In the rare instance that an indictment was returned, the accused person serenely stood his trial, with full confidence that no jury which could be impaneled in the jurisdiction would bring in a verdict of guilty. In fact, if any pro-slavery man got on such a jury, he was very likely to vote for acquittal as loudly as the rest, in order to save his hide.

Our forefathers regarded themselves as God fearing law abiding people, but they had their reservations when it came to obeying the law in which they did not believe. It must be confessed, their descendants are in much of the same mind.

 
Struthers along the Mahoning River in 1874.
The town of Newport did not exist in 1860 and was gone by 1899.