By Sherry Larson
We may be nearing the end of Black History Month but studying the rich stories should be an ongoing endeavor.
Former writer and historian Stephen Kelley, who wrote excellent pieces for The Defender before his death in 2011, researched and documented historical findings of Adams County and the Underground Railroad. As noted in the Defender’s February 10 edition, Megan McCarty is continuing his efforts with her extensive research on the subject.
Adams County Director of Tourism Tom Cross explained that five counties in Ohio – Adams, Lawrence, Brown, Scioto, and Gallia, and two each in Kentucky and West Virginia had received a $1.5 million grant as part of the Appalachian Freedom Heritage Tourism Initiative. Lawrence County spearheaded the grant process that will enable these counties to design an Underground Railroad tour.
Cross said, “The idea is to join other counties along the Ohio River to develop an Underground Railroad tour because many river communities have them. It’s been well documented here in Adams County and other counties.”
The grant came from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and was meant to help coal-impacted communities. It’s a three-year project in conjunction with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and many partners. There will be 27 Underground Railroad sites along the trail among the nine counties. Some counties will likely have more representation than others. Cross stated, “It’s going to come down to solid documentation. On our end, we know one will be the John T. Wilson Homestead.”The Wilson home was dedicated with its memorial plaque in 2014.
Cross credited Stephen Kelley for his research noting his book on Adams County, which includes a chapter about the Underground Railroad. Cross added, “Megan McCarty has taken the ball and is running with it.” He continued, “Most of the