What was it like to hide on your way along the Underground Railroad? Find out March 10 at the Appoquinimink Meetinghouse in Odessa.
Appoquinimink Friends Meeting House, ca. 1783, will open its doors to history-minded curious visitors who wish to gain a first-hand understanding of the Middletown-Odessa Underground Railroad station experience.
From 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday, March 10, the small brick place of worship for Quakers in lower New Castle County will be open to the public with Quakers – called Friends -- speaking about the endeavors of John Hunn and John Alston.
Both were leaders in Delaware’s abolition movement before the Civil War.Hiding place in the loft
A chance to visit Appoquinimink Friends Meeting is a rare opportunity to explore this National Register historic site, noted by the National Park Service.
By climbing a ladder-like stairway, Freedom Seekers found a safe hiding place behind a worship bench. It concealed a spacious refuge above the room where Quakers met each First Day (as they called Sunday). Now, a handmade black doll welcomes visitors at the entrance to this hidden space. “Harriet” rests on a hand-sewn quilt donated for this interpreted Underground Railroad scene.A doll represents the families that escaped from the South.
The dark hiding place is gained by a hatch door that gave Freedom Seekers, perhaps a whole family, a secure but unheated safe resting space until nightfall. Then they could travel north on their journey toward the next station on the Underground Railroad.
It is reputed that Harriet Tubman frequented this route as she led runaways from Dorchester County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, into Delaware near Camden, north through Duck Creek, Blackbird and to the vicinity of John Hunn’s farm.
His farm is the site of Middletown High School. He was a defendant in a notorious trial where he was accused of assisting runaways.
About the Appoquinimink Meetinghouse
Cantwell’s Bridge resident David Wilson Jr. was a wealthy Quaker who had married Mary Corbit, the sister of prominent Quaker tanner William Corbit. Wilson provided land on which the 1783 Meetinghouse was built. Basically unchanged since it was erected, Appoquinimink Friends have worshipped here practically uninterrupted ever since.
To the right of the meetinghouse is the grave of John Alston, John Hunn’s cousin.Meeting House, built around 1783
The meeting house is on the south side of Route 299, about 1/2 mile east of the Route 1 Odessa exit or 200 yards west of Route 13. Contact Kate O’Donnell at firstname.lastname@example.org, 302-365-1330 or 443-480-5209 cell.From Appoquinimink