Columbus Ohio real estate

Africa Road - Ohio's Underground Railroad to Freedom

Did you ever wonder about the name of Africa Road in southern Delaware County?   Where the name "Africa Road" came from?  I wondered.

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An Ohio Department of Natural Resources site has a page called  Ohio's Underground Railroad to Freedom which talks about slaves coming across the Ohio River from the south. Ohio played a large part in the Underground Railroad in the 1800s.   I wondered why Africa Road.  The site says:

William Hanby Freedom Crusader

"One of the most famous Underground Railroad routes in central Ohio was Africa Road. This was the setting of one of the most extra-ordinary chapters in Underground Railroad history. The tiny unincorporated zone in southern Delaware County which was once the community of Africa touches the southern border of what is now Alum Creek State Park. Prior to 1840, the hamlet then known as East Orange was a rural crossroads north of the bustling town of Westerville. Country gentlefolk had erected small cabins there as temporary housing while building permanent homes on their estates. After a time, the woodlands north of Westerville harbored a cluster of these abandoned cabins, as folks moved into their newly completed houses." 

Were the abandoned houses used by escaped slaves temporarily? Or did Africa in southern Delaware County become a community of escaped slaves? The DNR site goes on to say:  "One of the few pro-slavery landowners in the area sarcastically nicknamed the community "Africa," and the name stuck. Ever since, the community and the road have proudly kept the name, although the story behind it has been nearly forgotten"

The Worthington and Flint areas were also involved in the anti slavery movement and the Underground Railroad. Churches in Central Ohio were active in the Underground Railroad to Freedom for slaves from the south.

Ohio's  Underground Railroad to Freedom

Westervilles History

Westerville History - The Underground Railroad

Columbus Santa Connection - Westerville

The third word prompt in the NaBloPoMo is the word Freedom. I guess I am supposed to define Freedom. What came to mind first? I have to admit, the Janice Joplin song from the 1960s, "Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, " and I don't even know what that means. The word Freedom makes me think of Westerville and the history of the Underground Railroad... after I get over puzzling over the 'Me and Bobby McGee' lyrics. There is a subdivision named Freedom Colony in Westerville, in Franklin County.

On another note.... If anyone knows how to keep a Google map from shifting, I would love to know. Africa Road is east of Alum Creek Lake (reservoir) and Walnut Creek but the map keeps shifting to the west. Another mystery? The body of water on the Google map says "Williams Lake" ????? The body of water is the Alum Creek Reservoir. Who is William? Is Williams Lake another name for the Alum Creek Reservoir? Who was William? Or Williams? The Alum Creek Lake (reservoir) is not that old... was there a small lake there previously?


This post provided by Maureen McCabe HER Realtors*

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Comment balloon 4 commentsMaureen McCabe • June 03 2010 04:16AM



This is a fabulous post on local history! Thanks. I have "suggested" it =)

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 9 years ago

;- )

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) about 9 years ago

Just south of Lewis Center was a small villiage called Williamsville. It was located on what is now route 23. It was founded by Ansin Williams but it eventually disappeared. There is a marker near the Cemetary where the Church used to be.

Posted by Mark over 4 years ago

It is my understanding that the original community of free Blacks that did the real labor of the UR is now drowned under that reservoir. My ancestor Wlliam Cratty, a well-known spokespoerson for abolition worked with the people there to help keep the UR functioning in that area and further to the west with numerous alternate routes across the area between Columbus and Marysville.

Posted by Rev. Dr. Thomas C. Marshall about 1 year ago