The Levi Coffin House: A Last Stop In The Search For Freedom
The Levi Coffin House was built in 1839. The house was owned by Levi Coffin, and his wife Catharine. Although both of the Coffins were from the south, they were of the Quaker religion, and did not believe in slavery. Because they didn’t believe in slavery, they offered up their home in what is now know as Newport, Indiana, as a rest stop for runaway slaves. This rest stop was part of what was known as the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad earned its name, because the rest stops were on paths that were planned out like a railroad. Because the people who helped hide the slaves were breaking the law, what they did was termed as “underground”.
Levi Coffin was born in 1798, in North Carolina. His wife Catharine was born in 1803, and was also from North Carolina. Although slavery was the law of their land, and part of their lives, the Coffins rejected slavery. They moved to Indiana, and proceeded to use their house to help 2000 slaves escape. Levi Coffin was so successful in helping slaves to stay alive, that he earned the nickname “The President of the Underground Railroad”. He and his wife Catharine continued with helping to free slaves even after the slaves were set free in 1863. He and his wife moved to Ohio, where he opened a general goods store. There, he hired freemen to help him run his store, so that the newly freed slaves could earn an income. Levi later started a charitable program in England to help newly freed slaves with basic needs, such as food as clothing. Levi Coffin died in 1877. He was 79 years old. Catharine outlived him until 1881. She was 78 years old.
Housing runaway slaves was against the law. The courage that Levi Coffin and his wife showed has been memorialized by preserving their home, and making it a National Historic Landmark. The home to this day attracts many visitors to the Wayne County area. People want to see the home that helped so many slaves rest and recover on their way to freedom in Canada.
Here are some places to take a look at pictures of the home, read up about the history of the Levi Coffin, and learn about the Underground Railroad: