Newspaper Articles Archive

Mary Larkin Dugan was president of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center for over a dozen years, and was the leader of this effort to keep alive the memory of the UGRR—its struggles, its stories, and its heroes– in this area.  With Mary Dugan’s death in April 2013, we lost a friend, advocate and historian.  In this website, we have reproduced articles written by Mary Dugan and her associates.

       She began this series with an arrangement with the Kennett Paper. She photographed local houses known to have been part of the Underground Railroad in this area which were then published with captions explaining the history and significance of these structures.   This series was continued with thirty-seven articles written by Christopher Densmore, a Kennett Underground Railroad Center. This series was continued with twenty-seven article by KURC board member, Terry Maguire and an article by Marlene Drewes who became acting president of the KURC following Mary Dugan’s death. The newspaper series ended in 2015.

        The newspaper series has been re-edited for the KURC webpage, and historical pictures have been added. The graphics come from published works, primarily from R.C. Smedley’s History fo the Underground Railroad In Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania (first published in 1883; a reprint is available from the KURC) and William Still’s History of the Underground Railroad (first published in 1871 and reprinted numerous times).  There are no current plans to resume the newspaper stories, though from time to time we may add additional stories based on the research of KURC members.  If you know of similar accounts concerning  the Underground Railroad and related topics that should be added to this website, please contact the KURC through info@kennettunderground.org


“Solomon, Shall I Strike?”

Terence Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center In West Vincent, Chester County,187 years ago, these words were uttered in a moment of grave physical danger and profound moral challenge. On the farm of Esther Lewis, two fugitives from slavery were being employed as farm workers. They were well accustomed to this work, having for […]

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“No Irish Need Apply”

Terence James Patrick Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center In the early half of the 19th C., those words –or the acronym NINA–were commonly posted in places of potential employment in America.  For people of the time with names like the one under this title, it meant, “Don’t even bother to ask!  If you […]

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“Rights in Common with Other Americans”

Terence Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center While Thomas Garrett was the most famous stationmaster in Delaware, he was not the only one.  Two other active supporters of the UGRR were Peter Spencer and Abraham Shadd, both African-Americans.  In 1782 Spencer was born a slave in Maryland but was freed when his master died. […]

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“To Agitate the Question is a Breach of Good Faith”

Chris Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College It is now the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, an anniversary commemorated by exhibits, including the impressive exhibit at the Chester County Historical Society, reenactments, lectures and other events.   The Underground Railroad and the Kennett area are an integral part of the sectional conflict leading up […]

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“To Climb Upward…for a Wider Sweep of Vision” Bayard Taylor—Chester County’s Forgotten Man of Letters Part I

Terence Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center   In 19th C America, great literature came mostly from New England and New York.  The names of Hawthorne, Emerson, Bryant, Longfellow, Whittier, Melville, and others were household words.  Writers of the Brandywine Valley were not nearly so celebrated; Delaware had none of consequence until the1890s, and […]

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“To Climb Upward…for a Wider Sweep of Vision” Bayard Taylor—Chester County’s Forgotten Man of Letters Part II

Terence Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center Bayard Taylor obviously loved being a part of the broader, more sophisticated world.   The New York Tribune and Saturday Evening Post paid him to visit South America, Egypt, Africa, and India.  Meeting with the fleet of the first Americans heading for Japan, he charmed his way on […]

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A “Station” with Rails Heading in All Directions

Terence Maguire, for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center Quaker stationmasters of the Underground Railroad often had a delicate balancing act: protecting those who came to them for aid yet not overtly engaging in falsehoods.  Last December this column explained how John Vickers told the truth “slowly and suspiciously,” and thereby foiled slave hunters in hot […]

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A Kidnapping at the Cox House, 1851

Chris Densmore, Curator, Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College A news item from the Pennsylvania Freeman of March 13, 1851 reported: “A friend from Kennett informs us of a bold attempt to kidnap a free colored man in the employ of John Cox… Early in the morning four men in a carriage drove by, and seeing […]

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