OHIO – Nestled near Alum Creek State Park lies Africa Road, a bustling thoroughfare leading to scenic trails and park amenities. But the road holds a captivating tale, tracing back to a once-thriving community named Africa, a crucial stop on the Underground Railroad.
From Mocking Nickname to Badge of Honor:
Founded in the 1840s, the community arose from a congregation deeply involved in aiding enslaved people escape to freedom. Local opposition derisively nicknamed it “Africa,” but residents proudly embraced the name, transforming it into a symbol of their mission.
A Lifeline for Enslaved People:
Africa served as a key station on a hidden network, guiding individuals along Alum Creek towards the safety of Canada. It also housed a significant population of free African Americans, further solidifying its role as a haven for those seeking liberty.
A Legacy of Freedom and Service:
In 1859, nearly 30 formerly enslaved people arrived in Africa from North Carolina, finding refuge and opportunity. Many worked as paid laborers, some even acquiring land and serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. Their descendants carry on the legacy, with some names like Alston echoing across generations.
Remembering the Past:
Today, a historical marker near the park honors the community’s vital role in shaping Ohio’s history. Africa Road stands as a testament to the courage and resilience of those who fought for freedom, reminding us of the hidden stories interwoven into the landscape we navigate daily.