Black History Month: Historian explains where the Underground Railroad traveled through Bartholomew County

HOPE – Finding the historical tracks of the Underground Railroad is extremely difficult, but a state historian believes Bartholomew County had safe houses for slaves to escape to freedom.

Nearly 70 people crowded inside the Hope branch of the Bartholomew County Library for a one-hour presentation on the Underground Railroad on Wednesday, presented by Indiana Department of Historic Preservation and Archeology historian Jeannie Regan-Dinius.

Regan-Dinius explained that the network of secret routes and safe houses that were part of the Underground Railroad led to free states, Canada and Nova Scotia.

But it is difficult to determine actual locations, for a number of reasons, she said.

First of all, the need for secrecy was essential, and many who were involved avoided talking about it – even after the Civil War ended.

In addition to that, most slaves seeking freedom knew they were being tracked down by well-paid bounty hunters, Regan-Dinius said. That prompted the escapees to frequently alter their locations and routes, she said.

“Think of the Underground Railroad as more as a web, rather than a straight path,” Regan-Dinius told the audience.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.