24 Miles:  Slavery, Civil War, the Woodsmalls and After

"Beyond the River": The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad

  Beyond the River brings to life the story of John Rankin and the forgotten heroes of the Ripley, Ohio, line of the Underground Railroad during the fierce "war before the war" between abolitionists and slave chasers along the banks of the Ohio River.

“The decades before the Civil War were rife with sectarian violence along the borders between slave and free states. The Ohio River was one such border, separating the slave state of Kentucky from the free state of Ohio. Here, often closely pursued by slave chasers, runaway slaves tried to make the dangerous crossing into freedom. Waiting to help them achieve their goal was preacher and farmer John Rankin and his associates in Ripley, a town known in Kentucky as "that abolitionist hellhole," on the free side of the Ohio.

“One of the early leaders of the abolitionist movement, Rankin's captivating story began with a series of letters he wrote to persuade his brother in Virginia to abandon slavery. He succeeded, and his letters, collected and published as Letters on American Slavery, became one of the most famous and influential abolitionist documents. (Famed abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison called Rankin his "anti-slavery father.") Rankin and his associates (who included free blacks) were the front line of the anti-slavery movement, passing fugitive slaves along the road to freedom farther north. A sensational trial in Kentucky in the 1830s - described in this book - threatened to expose the Ripley line conductors, but Rankin and his large family continued to rescue runaways, even risking their lives to face down slave chasers.  All these events were swirling around the Woodsmalls in Oldham, Jefferson and Shelby Counties.

 "Eliza" from the famed book called "Uncle Tom's Cabin" crossed the Ohio River into safety. The story within the book was based upon a true incident which involved a runaway slave who escaped and crossed the Ohio River into Ripley and made her way to freedom.

"Filming began July 21, 2003 in Ripley, on the film Brothers of the Borderland.   This film will be shown on an ongoing basis at the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center now under construction in Cincinnati, Ohio."

 [citations from: www.ripleyohio.net]


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24 MILES:   Main Index Page

“Beyond the River” : 124 Miles from La Grange, Kentucky to Ripley, Ohio - Freedom

The Aftermath:  Depression


Copyright © 2005 Donald Murphy for David Dlouhy.  All Rights Reserved.  David Dlouhy - scificity@starpower.net