5 underground railroad sites near Dayton

On Wednesday it became official that Harriet Tubman, a former slave turned abolitionist who secretly helped hundreds of Southern slaves secure freedom in the North and beyond, will replace slave-owning President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill.

Tubman’s efforts helped ferry thousands of slaves through the Underground Railroad system to Ohio.

Giant leaps of faith brought an estimated 2,000 runaway slaves to the house John and Jean Rankin shared with their 13 children on the Ohio River in Ripley.

The slaves knew only to look for a house on a hill with a light in the window.

John Rankin, an American Presbyterian minister and outspoken abolitionist, often stood on that hill — Liberty Hill — and used a candle or lantern to signal slaves across the Ohio River. Jean Rankin cooked for the runaways and sewed them clothes.

An estimated 100,000 slaves sought freedom in the 1800s through a network of supporters and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad, according to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

Outpost dot southern Ohio operated by folks like the Rankins.

Clermont County alone has 33 abolitionist or Underground Railroad sites.

The “Conductors” — whites, freed blacks, fellow slaves and Native Americans — guided them to freedom from oppression.

Some of the slaves who made it to Ohio after arduous journeys from Kentucky, Tennessee and other slave states went on to Canada.

Many settled in Dayton, Springfield and other parts of Ohio.

Springboro, for example, is thought to have more Underground Railroad depots in and around the city than anywhere else in the state. The Springboro Area Historical Society has documented 27. Remnants of hiding places and tunnels still exist in private houses and businesses there.

The city says more than 4,000 people were helped to freedom there during a 50-year period.

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