Since several of our members made the Underground Railroad quilt, I found an interesting articles while on retreat. The information was in the Franklin County, PA magazine.
"Underground Railroad Activity in Chambersburg"
Throughout the pre-Civil War period, there were a number of Underground Railroad "stations" in this area, temporary places of refuge for former slaves escaping through the mountainous terrain to freedom in the North. One local Underground Railroad agent was a free black barber, Henry Watson, who assisted fugitive slaves as they passed through Chambersburg, helping to keep them safe and undetected by the slave-catchers and bounty hunters searching for them.
"The South Mountain Road to Freedom"
Franklin County offered a number of entry points as well as the natural protection of Mountains, forests, and caves. The Jacob Shockey farm, near Rouzerville just across the Maryland line, was at the foot of the South Mountain range. The forest sheltered the fugitives by day and under cover of darkness, Shockey would guide the group eight miles to the Hiram Wertz farm near Quincy. From the Wertz farm, the escapees traveled another eight miles to an African-American community near Thaddeus Steven's Caledonia Iron Works. Traveling today, the route would parallel Route 997.
The community, sometimes called Africa, was the third largest African-American population in Franklin County in 1850.
"Mercersburg Escape Routes"
The Mercersburg African-American population was the largest in Franklin County. Eight miles over the Mason-Dixon line, Mercersburg offered many escape routes that were former Native American pathways. Escaping slaves would follow the Warm Springs Indian Trail, which parallels today's Route 75, into Mercersburg. From here, they traveled to Chambersburg to the safe houses along today's Route 30, and then into Shippensburg along present-day Route 11. From Shippensburg, escapees made their way to Carlisle, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, and on to freedom in Canada. In the 1820's, African-Americans began to settle along Fayette Street, Mercersburg, and the community grew. The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, believed to be part of the Underground Railroad, was located in this neighborhood, as is the Zion Union Cemetery.