Pilgrimage tour celebrates county’s role in abolition

Oct. 9 – JEFFERSON – The abolitionist movement in Ashtabula County came to life in multiple locations Saturday during a pilgrimage to historic sites.

The 43rd annual Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum Pilgrimage took place on Saturday morning as interested people gathered at the Hubbard House and learned more about the movement through several stops throughout the county.

“The pilgrimage is important because it continues to educate people about the importance of the abolitionist movement in Ashtabula County at a time when the country was divided by slavery,” said Sally Bradley, executive director of the Hubbard House.

The Hubbard House was a final stop on the road to freedom for many slaves who then took ships to Canada where they could live without fear of being sent back to the South before the Civil War.

Platt R. Spencer, long known for his role in developing cursive writing techniques, was also active in various social causes, Andy Pochatko said, including abolition.

Pochatko said the Second Great Awakening, a religious movement that lasted from 1795 to 1835, placed a high value on societal change. He said the movement, and Ashtabula County residents affected by it, were actively trying to end slavery. Other causes included stopping alcohol consumption, supporting labor movements, and women’s suffrage.

“I talked about [Spencer] and his brother Daniel,” Pochatko said.

At the Hubbard House, Pochatko said he spoke about Matthew Hubbard, an early settler in the town of Ashtabula, and his interest in colonialism, which included the possible deportation of freed sleeves to Liberia.

Pochatko said William Hubbard came to Ashtabula in the 1830s and created a group more sensitive to eradicating slavery and helping slaves gain rights in society.

The Hubbard House was just one of many Underground Railroad stops of which many structures have survived. Tim Hubbard, a relative of the abolitionist Hubbard family, worked to maintain the home as a permanent reminder of the importance of the abolitionist movement to many Ashtabula County residents.

The final stop on Saturday’s pilgrimage was to Giddings Law Office in Jefferson. The interaction between those giving history lessons on Giddings and the pilgrimage tour allowed for discussions of local history.

Joshua Giddings was a US Congressman from 1855 to 1859 and fought against slavery before and after his time as a politician.

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