From Ohio History Central
William Stephenson was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Logan County, Ohio.
Little is known of William Stephenson's life. He was born on March 19, 1804. He eventually married Leweza B. Stephenson. In all likelihood, the Stephensons were members of the Society of Friends. The couple eventually settled in Logan County, near Rushsylvania. William Stephenson earned his living as a farmer.
The Stephensons opposed slavery. They actively assisted fugitive slaves in attaining their freedom on the Underground Railroad. The Stephenson home contained a secret door into the basement, where the Stephensons hid the runaway slaves. Sometimes the fugitives also hid in a cave or under a rock bridge on the Stephenson property. Stephenson died on May 18, 1895.
William Stephenson 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 Stephenson.
- Siebert, Wibur H. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Russell & Russell, 1898.