The Rev. Thomas W. Henry (1794 to 1877) was born into slavery in Leonardtown, MD. Henry became a free man in 1821 and in 1835 became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. When Henry married his first wife, she was enslaved. He saved money and was able to buy her freedom, and that of two of their four children. The other two children were sold before he could raise the money to purchase them. Although they were his children, they were enslaved and required their freedom be bought. Rev. Henry worked as an abolitionist to free the enslaved in MD via the Underground Railroad.
Discovered after the raid on Harper’s Ferry, Rev. Henry’s name was on papers belonging to John Brown. As an itinerant preacher, Rev Henry preached in AME churches in Frederick, Hagerstown, Greencastle, Chambersburg, and beyond. It is known that he helped enslaved adults and children get from Frederick to Hagerstown. Hagerstown, located in a slave state, is six miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line- the traditional demarcation between slavery & freedom. From Hagerstown north, Greencastle was the next closest town located on free soil with an AME congregation. There are no government validated UGRR sites in the town of Greencastle but to travel from Hagerstown to Chambersburg would have been a 24- mile trip, which could not have been easily made in one night.
From 1816 to circa 1873, Greencastle’s Bethel AME church was a log building at 227 South Carlisle St. The “new” AME church, pictured here, was built about 1873 on the same site where the log structure was located. ~ There had to be a stop or stops (run by both black and white families) in Greencastle, but as aiding and abetting escaped enslaved people was illegal, there were very few written accounts throughout the states.
In Antrim Township, Timothy Anderson Sr, a free black man living on Ridge Road, was a conductor on the UGRR. Anderson was a member of the Greencastle Presbyterian Church and hired free black men and formerly enslaved men at his sawmill business. From Hagerstown, the routes fanned out in other directions- one to the east to the Shockey farm in Ringgold, MD, across the Maryland Line to the Christian Shockey farm east of Waynesboro, and then to Hiram Wertz. From Hagerstown westward, the route connected to Mercersburg, which had the largest African American population in the county.
Article is excerpted from the Allison-Antrim March 2023 Newsletter. For more information, please visit: www.greencastlemuseum.org, Facebook, on Twitter @greencastlemuzm, or call 717-597-9010. Allison-Antrim Museum, is open regularly Tuesday to Friday, from noon to 4 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.