Beaver County played a major role in the Underground Railroad thanks in part to the Ohio River. Since it bordered many slave states, the waterway served as a natural pathway for runaway slaves from the South on their way to freedom in Canada. Slaves would come through Hookstown and then up the Ohio to the Beaver River, where they’d be led to safe house in Bridgewater. The Quakers would then meet the runaways at this point and transport them up the Beaver River to various stations in New Brighton. Many of them were then taken to Darlington, where they were cared for by the Free Presbyterians.
Nine buildings have been recognized by the New Brighton Historical Society as being involved in the Underground Railroad. Six of these privately owned homes are believed to be “safe” houses, and the David Townsend Flour Mill harbored fugitives until a “safe house” was available. The First Presbyterian Church hosted many anti-slavery speakers. Sarah Jane Lippincott, an accomplished writer and lecturer, openly spoke about the evils of slavery and her childhood home is also included. The New Brighton Historical Society recently purchased the Irish-Townsend home on 7th Avenue to be used as a future office, museum and community resource. A walking tour brochure is available with information about each of the buildings.
Six private homes in Darlington and Cannelton, are known to have been “safe houses.” The Free Presbyterian Church, currently the Darlington Presbyterian Church of America, was founded by Rev. Arthur B. Bradford, who was a dynamic speaker who lectured throughout the country for the anti-slavery cause. The first academy west of the Alleghenies, Greersburg, served as a forum for antislavery town meetings. The Greersburg Academy, which is preserved by the Little Beaver Historical Society, currently has a room dedicated to the Underground Railroad. A walking and driving tour brochure is also available for these 2 communities.