Marcus Sims, a free African American, was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Clermont County, Ohio.
Little is known of Sims's youth. As an adult, Sims worked at a tannery in Williamsburg, Ohio. The tannery, which was owned by Charles B. Huber, was located at 134 South Second Street in Williamsburg.
Both Huber and Sims were actively involved in the Underground Railroad. Huber sometimes hid fugitive slaves in his home in Williamsburg. He also would try to confuse slave catchers by stationing armed guards around his home, making the catchers believe that fugitives were in the house. In actuality, Huber was concealing the runaways at his farm, which was located on the outskirts of Williamsburg. Huber commonly concealed the African Americans in haystacks, cornshocks, strawstacks, and in his barn. Sims usually transported the fugitives to Quaker settlements in Highland and Clinton Counties, Ohio.
With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Sims eventually enlisted in the Union Army. He died in 1864, while serving in the military.
Sims represents the growing tensions over slavery between Northerners and Southerners during the early nineteenth century. While many Northern states had provisions outlawing slavery, runaway slaves did not necessarily gain their freedom upon arriving in a free state. Federal law permitted slaveowners to reclaim their runaway slaves. Some slaves managed to escape their owners on their own, while others sometimes received assistance from sympathetic Northerners, such as Sims.