The Underground Road that
Ran Right to Red Oak.
This 1876 map, shows former abolitionists still residing around Red Oak and on the routes south to Ripley — "Atlas of Brown County Ohio" Lake, Griffing & Stevenson, 1876.
John Parker, the noted Underground Railroad extractor claimed in his autobiography that
"The Reverend James Gilliland and his congregation formed the core of the largest concentration of Underground Railroad conductors in Ohio.”
And it was a major Underground Railroad route that led north out of Ripley to Red Oak
that made Red Oak one of the first stops for freedom seekers after crossing the Ohio River. It may
have also been the road that gave birth to the naming of the Underground Railroad.
Local historians write the narrative of an escaping teen fugitive by the name of Tice Davids,
whose desperation to escape the abomination of slavery in 1831 drove him to swim the Ohio river
with the slave owners close behind in a skiff, paddling furiously to catch him.
Once the young Davids reached the shore, he quickly clambered up the steep banks,
and despite a fevered door-to-door search he was forever lost to the slave owners.
"It's like he slipped off some underground road."
the slave owner told others when he returned home without his human property. Ironically, some historians dismiss this story on the grounds it was called the "underground railroad" and railroads were rare at the time. Yet, that name was never assigned until later, laying bare the criticism.