Civil War Places and Events
“The Pilgrim’s Pathway” – This descriptive title was given to one of the earliest escape corridors into Lancaster County by those coming north along the Susquehanna River. At Peach Bottom, The St. Peters Creek empties into the river. Fugitive slaves followed the creek inland for several miles through dark, lonely ravines. They then left this creek and traveled overland, following farm roads. Because they were highly visible, night travel was almost a necessity. A second stream guided them to the safe houses and hideouts along the route to Eastern Lancaster County, Christiana, and eventual freedom. One of these roads retains the name Pilgrim’s Pathway.
The Pilgrim’s Pathway
As archaeologists unearth a secret slave passageway used by abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens. Scholars have reevaluated his reputation and that of his neighbor and nemesis, James Buchanan.
The Pilgrim’s Pathway
Like Columbia, Lancaster had a large black population and a number of white residents who supported the abolitionist cause. The city was home to slave self-protection groups and refugee societies that protected fugitives from masters or their agents. Lydia Hamilton Smith, Thaddeus Stevens, and Bethel A.M.E. Church provided assistance on the Underground Railroad by sending fugitives to larger American cities like Philadelphia, or even further, to Canada.
Bethel A.M.E Church
415 East Strawberry Street, Lancaster, 717-396-8381
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was active in the aid of fugitives throughout the North and the Lancaster Bethel A.M.E., Founded in 1817, was no exception. Because of the work of two of its early ministers, Joshua P. Eddy and Robert Boston, the church served as a station on the Underground Railroad as well as the center of spiritual renewal for free African-Americans who lived in the Lancaster community.
Bethel A.M.E. Cemetery (burials from 1817 – 1906)
Adjacent to the church is the resting place of soldiers, church pastors, and parishioners.
Living the Experience
At bethel A.M.E. Church, 717-396-8381
Mar-Dec: scheduled, historical re-enactment performance with traditional dinner. Advanced registration is requested, individual and group rates are available. This performance is an interactive journey back to the time of the Underground Railroad.
5- St. Mary’s Cemetery
Between Park and New Holland Avenues, Lancaster
Lydia Hamilton Smith, a conductor on the Underground Railroad and confidante of Thaddeus Stevens, is buried here.