New Ohio Historical Underground Railroad Trail features Alliance's Haines House

Fugitive slaves, escaping on the Underground Railroad, were hidden in this attic at the Haines House in Alliance. The Haines House Underground Railroad Museum is one of 15 spots listed on the new Ohio Historical Underground Railroad Trail.
Fugitive slaves, escaping on the Underground Railroad, were hidden in this attic at the Haines House in Alliance. The Haines House Underground Railroad Museum is one of 15 spots listed on the new Ohio Historical Underground Railroad Trail.

A new trail stretching across Ohio, teaching the U.S. history of slavery, includes Alliance's Haines House Underground Railroad Museum.

"It's pretty cool," said Robb Hyde, president of the Alliance Area Preservation Society, which maintains the museum.

Titled the Ohio Historical Underground Railroad Trail, the Ohio Department of Development and TourismOhio made the announcement last week in honor of Underground Railroad Month.

“It is important that we remember the legacy and impact of the Underground Railroad on this country, as well as Ohio’s prominent role in its operation,” Gov. Mike DeWine said in a prepared statement. “We’ve created this new trail to show both visitors and Ohioans how to learn more about Ohio’s history as an important connector on the Underground Railroad.”

Ohio Department of Development map of Underground Railroad locations featured on the statewide trail.
Ohio Department of Development map of Underground Railroad locations featured on the statewide trail.

DeWine signed House Bill 340 in 2022 designating September as International Underground Railroad Month in Ohio, joining 11 other states, state officials said.

The trail will take visitors to 15 historic stops like the Haines House and John Brown House in Akron.

The John Brown House undergoes restorations and renovations in 2019, including the installation of cedar siding.
The John Brown House undergoes restorations and renovations in 2019, including the installation of cedar siding.

The Haines House was a safe place for slaves

Around 1853, the Haines House, then owned by Quaker farmers Jonathan Ridgeway Haines and Sarah Grant Haines, became a stop on the Underground Railroad. Key figures in the anti-slavery movement such as Abby Kelley Foster visited their home.

John Grant and his wife, Nancy, built the home. Sarah was their daughter.

The Haines House Underground Railroad Museum in Alliance. It is operated by the Alliance Area Preservation Society. It is undergoing some repairs and renovations.
The Haines House Underground Railroad Museum in Alliance. It is operated by the Alliance Area Preservation Society. It is undergoing some repairs and renovations.

Hyde said the Haines House served as a safe place for fugitive slaves and the couple hosted anti-slavery speakers and conducted meetings. In the Haines House, fugitive slaves stayed in the attic, accessible between two bedrooms.

"All of Ohio was known as the main line of the Underground Railroad because of the Ohio River in the south and Lake Erie in the north," Hyde said. Between Salem and Massillon, "This area was recognized as a hotbed of abolitionist activity."

Hyde said TourismOhio chose the Haines House for the trail. They didn't apply for it. He's thrilled they were chosen. He hopes the trail draws more visitors. Hyde said the museum averages 1,000 visitors annually.

Robb Hyde, president of the Alliance Area Preservation Society, talks about the Haines House in Alliance, now a museum that preserves the property's role in the Underground Railroad.
Robb Hyde, president of the Alliance Area Preservation Society, talks about the Haines House in Alliance, now a museum that preserves the property's role in the Underground Railroad.

He said they run a small operation with limited financial resources, tours are mostly by appointment. There are selected dates for open house tours. A donation $5 per person is requested but children under 10 are free.

"Are the Haines heroes? Not in the 21st century context of superheroes. But they were the way I like to think of heroes. You do what you believe in and do what you can. They did those things," Hyde said.

'There is so much important history in Ohio.'

The Haines House isn't the only Underground Railroad site in Stark County.

The Spring Hill Historic Home and Underground Railroad Site in Massillon was not included in the state trail, but Hyde said it is another important place to learn about the history of the anti-slavery movement.

Articles and audio stories from the Hudson Library and Historical Society are available to complement each of the 15 locations.

From 2018: Spring Hill shifts focus to Underground Railroad

“There is so much important history in Ohio,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Department of Development, which oversees TourismOhio. “The work of the organizations and destinations featured on this map is invaluable to preserving our history, and I’m so glad we get to put them in the spotlight.”

To learn more, visit the Ohio Historical Underground Railroad Trail website at https://ohio.org/home/ugrrtrail/ohio-historical-underground-railroad-trail.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Ohio Underground Railroad Trail includes Haines House in Alliance