Underground Railroad Event @ Morrisson Reeves Library

MRL flyer underground

What’s Happening Wayne County…September 17-19, 2010

Another weekend of Festivals and Bicentennial Celebrations.  Check the list below and when you attend one of these wonderful events–please let us know how much fun you had…post your comments or write a blog on GoWayneCounty.com – send your blog and pictures to Karole@GoWayneCounty.com.

Bicentennial Bash at E Street Pub – Richmond

Fri, September 17, 6p.m. – 2 a.m.

E Street Pub 815 North E Street, Richmond, IN
Is co-sponsored by Go Wayne County and E Street Pub, and promises to be a killer night out for people who love to support and enjoy local bands who cover a wide range of genres. In addition to providing nearly 8 hours of some of the best Wayne County has to offer in live music, there will be raffles throughout the night to give away some great schwag to attendees to support great local non-profits.

Here is the lineup for the evening:

  • Brian Dannaker
  • Craig Wynne
  • Megan Eversole
  • Bryan Baker & Doug Wright
  • (Return of) Safety Pin
  • 8 Ways from Nothing
  • Lipstick
  • Spires of Altum

Admission is only 5 bucks! (To read entire story go to GoWayneCounty.com/blog ).

Levi Coffin House

Levi Coffin Days: Fountain City

Saturday, Sep 18, 2010

Fountain City, Wayne County Indiana
Since 1968 Levi Coffin Days have been held in Historic Fountain City, home of Levi Coffin and one of the sites of the underground railroad. Events this year will include, evening dances with queen crowning, a huge flea market with many dealers, and a parade, free entertainment, kids games and a food court.

Family Fun Fest

Saturday, September 18, 10am – 2pm

Family Fun Fest

South 10th Street Park; Richmond

Bring the entire family out to enjoy this favorite fall event featuring games, prizes, entertainment, and more! There will be carnival-style games for the kids and a Discovery Zone filled with over 20 of our community agencies distributing helpful information for parents. Add to this a jam-packed stage schedule and you have fun for the whole family! Don’t miss it!
To read about the many more events this weekend including a Jazzy Jam Fest, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln High School Homecoming game and much more go to GoWayneCounty.com/Calendar– and read all about it!

Bicentennial Series of Small Towns in Wayne County: Fountain City

Just off of US 27, Fountain City is a treasure trove of history in Wayne County.

Historic Levi Coffin House: Part of Underground Railroad

Interestingly Fountain City was named twice before it received its current name.  Founded in 1818 by Redden Chance and Solomon Thomas it was first named New Garden and later changed to Newport in 1834.  Due to another town in Indiana carrying the name of Newport, the final name was bestowed in 1879 at its incorporation.  The derivation was due to the existence of many freshwater springs in the area which at the time were called “fountains.”

The Underground Railroad

Indoor Well used to Conceal Slave on Underground Railroad

Fountain City’s greatest claim in history is its strong affiliation with the Underground Railroad which existed in the area prior to the arrival of the Coffin family.  As Levi Coffin wrote in his journal, “soon after we located to Newport (now Fountain City), I found that we were on a line of the U.G.R.R. (Underground Railroad).  Fugitives often passed through that place…fugitive slaves…were often pursued and captured… I was willing to receive and aid as many fugitives as were disposed to my house.”

And Levi Coffin and his family did just that.  A Quaker family, they moved from the slave-owning North Carolina to Indiana.  Their religious beliefs compelled them to free slaves even though at the time it was a federal offense to do so.  At one time they were reported to have housed 17 fugitives in their small home.  It is believed that, in total, they helped more than 2,000 fugitives escape to freedom, and none were ever caught in their care.  For his successful efforts, Levi Coffin was termed the “president” of the Underground Railroad.

In his autobiography Levi tells of one of the slaves, which the Coffin family helped to freedom, who had “fled from Kentucky with a baby in her arms.”  She crossed the Ohio River in winter leaping from one ice formation to the next carrying her baby.  The woman’s name was Eliza Harris and she later became the model for the character “Eliza” in Uncle Tom’s Cabin written by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Levi Coffin and his family later moved to Cincinnati where they helped over 1,000 more slaves escape.  He worked against slavery up to the end of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation which ended slavery in America.

Parlor in Levi Coffin House

The Levi Coffin House, in Fountain City, is open to the public for tours from June 1 – August 31, Tuesday- Saturday 1:00-4:00 p.m.  From September 1-October 31, it is open on Saturdays only from 1:00-4:00 p.m.

In honor of Levi Coffin the town celebrates Levi Coffin Days the third weekend in August. According to Sue Brooks, clerk of Fountain City, the celebration is put on by the Lions Club each year.  The festivities include over 200 vendors, food, a parade, and kids activities.  For more information about Levi Coffin Days you can contact the Lions Club of Fountain City.  To learn more about the Levi Coffin House you can call: 765-847-2432.

Yet another small town in Wayne County that is aglow with its own rich history.