We stopped in at the public library in Columbus, Mississippi.I had the opportunity to look at some really old documents, so old I had to put on gloves to protect the pages. I was given a book that was called a slave manual, but it really was a collection of legal records that state who bought slaves, when they were bought & that they were for the purpose of personal use and not to be resold. The only date I saw was for 1837, and the records didn't have the names or any real way of noting who the slaves were -which is telling and sad. After the fugitive slave act was passed (a federal law mandating that escaped slaves could be captured and returned to their 'owners' upon proof of ownership) it was dangerous for free black persons and escaped slaves because slave hunters and slaveholders would frequently kidnap or claim anyone because it was hard to disprove ownership. After this law was passed many free and escaped blacks moved farther North or to Canada, which is why our destination is Canada.
The underground railroad was at first completely unorganized, and made up of free blacks and even people who weren't against slavery but offered food or shelter to a fellow human being in need. The UGRR became organized by the cooperation of free & escaped African Americans and largely Quakers and very devout Christians. From my current research I have come across three heroes of the underground railroad. Harriet Tubman, William Stills and John Rankin. Harriet Tubman decided when her 'master' died that she would live free or die trying. She left her free black husband who was afraid to run away with her. She then traveled between 8 and 19 times back into the South to rescue slaves. She helped free some 100 slaves in order to fight int he civil war. William Stills was a free black man who recorded the stories of the slaves he helped escape (and in the process found his brother!). He was among those who assisted Henry Box Brown. John Rankin was a minister in Ripley Ohio who was among those who helped create the abolitionist movement by traveling throughout the country to speak out against slavery. Hew also publicly stood against slavery on his farm and protected and aided the escape of slaves from the slave state of Kentucky to Ohio and farther north.