: This photograph depicts Uncle "Billy" Marshall, a conductor for the Underground Railroad, standing outside of the Rankin House in Ripley, Ohio. The house was run by John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister. Up to the American Civil War, Rankin dedicated his life to abolishing slavery. After spending several years as a minister and abolitionist in Kentucky, Rankin moved to Ripley to continue his anti-slavery work. He most likely moved into this home in 1825, where he continued to serve as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
The Rankin House stood on a 300-foot-high hill, known as "Liberty Hill," which overlooked the Ohio River. Rankin would signal fugitive slaves in Kentucky with a lantern or candle, letting them know when it was safe to cross the Ohio River. To access Rankin's home on top of Liberty Hill, those seeking their freedom had to climb 100 wooden steps. Rankin would provide the former slaves with sanctuary, keeping them hidden until it was safe for them to travel further north.
John Rankin is believed to have provided shelter and food to as many as 2,000 fugitive slaves during his career with the Underground Railroad; according to several accounts, none of those whom Rankin helped were ever returned to slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe immortalized Rankin's efforts to help African Americans in her book, "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Rankin's home was the first stop in Ohio for Eliza, one of the book's main characters, as she sought freedom in the North.
Today, the Rankin house is home to a museum operated by the Ohio History Connection. View on Ohio Memory.
: SC652_004 Subjects
: Underground Railroad; Rankin House; Historic houses; Brown County (Ohio) Places
: Ripley (Ohio); Brown County (Ohio)