Thomas L. Gray

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Thomas L. Gray and His Residence.jpg
Thomas L. Gray (1815-1899) pictured here standing in front of his home in Deavertown, Morgan County, Ohio. He used this house as a station on the Underground Railroad. The image was collected by Ohio State University professor Wilbur H. Siebert (1866-1961). Siebert began researching the Underground Railroad in the 1890s as a way to interest his students in history.

Thomas L. Gray was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Morgan County, Ohio.

Gray was born in 1815. As an adult, he earned his living as a harness maker in Deavertown in Morgan County. Besides his economic pursuits, Gray was also active as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. It is believed that Gray helped as many as five hundred fugitive slaves in gaining their freedom. His home served as a safe house for runaway slaves who had crossed the Ohio River between Marietta, Ohio and Portsmouth, Ohio. Upon leaving Gray's home, most fugitives then made their way to Zanesville, Ohio. Gray remained an active conductor on the Underground Railroad until slavery's demise with the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. During the American Civil War, Gray also warned his neighbors of General John Hunt Morgan's approach, giving his neighbors time to hide their horses and valuables. Gray died in 1899.

Gray 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 Gray.

See Also

References

  1. Siebert, Wibur H. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Russell & Russell, 1898.