Friday, May 21, 1999

Springboro celebrates Underground Railroad heritage

Crafts and tours will tell stories

Enquirer Contributor

        SPRINGBORO — In pre-Civil War times, many people in Springboro lived dual lives. To the external world they were busy farmers, merchants, homemakers and professionals. In secret, they were breaking the law: conducting hundreds of escaping slaves through Springboro's Underground Railroad sites to freedom in Canada.

        To spotlight this heritage, the Springboro Historical Society and the Olde Springboro Village Merchants Association are sponsoring a Freedom Festival this weekend. The festival will feature Underground Railroad tours and exhibits, 19th century crafts and military re-enactments.

        “We have quite a rich history here,” said Susan Darling, a member of the historical society and merchants association. “This town was founded by Jonathan Wright, a known abolitionist.”

        Springboro and the sur rounding Clearcreak Township have 27 authenticated sites in the Underground Railroad, said historical society member Helen Sproat.

        Few of the sites remain today, but several houses along Springboro's historic Main Street were Underground Railroad depots. During the festival, tour guides will point out the buildings and tell about their history.

        Visitors who wish to report for duty in the Civil War may visit the recruiting station that will be set up on Main Street. Authentically costumed Civil War re-enactors will interpret military history and drill new recruits.

        “They will also have a field hospital set up, showing the kind of instruments that were used, and the care — or lack of it — that the wounded got,” Ms. Sproat said.

        The festival will occupy five blocks of Main Street.

        Costumed artisans will demonstrate such 19th century skills as weaving, blacksmithing and tinsmithing, pottery and basketry. A dulcimer band and banjo band will provide traditional music. headIF YOU GO

        • What: Springboro Freedom Festival.

        • When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

        • Where: Main Street (Ohio 741), south of Ohio 73.

        • Information: (513) 748-5370 or 748-2192.


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