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Year of Jubilee (1863)

Centre County, Pennsylvania

Miscellaneous Items of Interest

The following items relating to Underground Railroad activity in Centre County have been reported or documented, but most lack details, evidence or sources. They are presented below as clues to further research.

Halfmoon Township

Source: Tracy Taylor, "Black History Important Part of Centre County," Centre Daily Times, 4 February 1990, page E3:

Stories handed down through generations of another family tell about a stopping point in Matternville in Halfmoon Township.

Kathryn Reed of Port Matilda RD 1, said that as a child she heard stories from relatives that under the old schoolhouse in Matternville, off the junction of Route 322 and Route 550, the underground railroad ran between 1835 and 1840. Reed said she heard that under the school was a cave, with an entrance from the fields, which was a holding point for slaves on their way north. Reed says she's sure that the entrance has been filled in.

Now Available on this site

The Year of Jubilee

Vol. 1: Men of God and Vol. 2: Men of Muscle

by George F. Nagle

Both volumes of the Afrolumens book are now available on this website. Click the link to read.

The Year of Jubilee is the story of Harrisburg'g free African American community, from the era of colonialism and slavery to hard-won freedom.

Volume One, Men of God, covers the turbulent beginnings of this community, from Hercules and the first slaves, the growth of slavery in central Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg area slave plantations, early runaway slaves, to the birth of a free black community. Men of God is a detailed history of Harrisburg's first black entrepreneurs, the early black churches, the first black neighborhoods, and the maturing of the social institutions that supported this vibrant community.

It includes an extensive examination of state and federal laws governing slave ownership and the recovery of runaway slaves, the growth of the colonization movement, anti-colonization efforts, anti-slavery, abolitionism and radical abolitionism. It concludes with the complex relationship between Harrisburg's black and white abolitionists, and details the efforts and activities of each group as they worked separately at first, then learned to cooperate in fighting against slavery. Read it here.

Non-fiction, history. 607 pages, softcover.

Volume Two, Men of Muscle takes the story from 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, through the explosive 1850s to the coming of Civil War to central Pennsylvania. In this volume, Harrisburg's African American community weathers kidnappings, raids, riots, plots, murders, intimidation, and the coming of war. Caught between hostile Union soldiers and deadly Confederate soldiers, they ultimately had to choose between fleeing or fighting. This is the story of that choice.

Non-fiction, history. 630 pages, softcover.



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