Abolitionists on the Underground Railroad: Legends from Montgomery County, Indiana

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About the author

Shannon Sullivan Hudson

A science teacher by day, a history buff by night!  I fell in love with both subjects in elementary school.  My parents, also scientists and history buffs, encouraged me to learn more about both. 

My maternal first cousins traced our family history discovering we descended from a very long line of Quakers who settled on the eastern side of Indiana, right in the middle of Levi Coffin’s operation near Richmond.  Like many other groups, my ancestors faced a great dilemma when deciding what to do about the issue of slavery; should man’s law or God’s law be followed.  No documentation of my ancestors’ decisions regarding slavery has surfaced, so I am left wondering which side of the issue they chose to acknowledge. 

When I was in high school, my parents and I visited Charleston, South Carolina, and I saw the Slave Market.  I remember standing before this monument transfixed by what had transpired there.  The memory indelibly etched in my mind; it is as clear today as it was when I was 16 years old.  I knew then I had to know more, and so my journey to this book began.   

When I moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana, in 1990, the late Jan and Don Avery introduced me to the fascinating history of Montgomery County.  In one day, we visited Lane Place, the Rotary Jail, the Lew Wallace Study, and the Speed Cabin that stood in Milligan Park.  Soon after, fellow teacher and Underground Railroad enthusiast Pete Utterback and I met local expert historian Martha Cantrell, spending the afternoon listening to her stories of Montgomery County’s Underground Railroad.  Her passion, enthusiasm and vast resources renewed my interest.  

My research opportunities presented themselves in two Lilly Teacher Creativity Grants in 2003 and 2016.  I began to study a broad set of information relating to the Underground Railroad, to expand on existing information, and to complete my journey by telling Montgomery County’s piece of the Underground Railroad puzzle.  This book is the culminating document of my findings from that very long journey.