Who's Who in Pennsylvania's Underground Railroad

G Surnames

Gardiner, Charles W., Rev. (Also spelled Gardner) 1782 - 1863
Location: Philadelphia, Harrisburg; Role: Abolitionist and spiritual leader

Documentation:  Joseph A. Borome, "The Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 92 (January 1968), p. 351.

The Rev. Charles W. Gardiner was pastor of the First African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, as well as serving a term as president of the Vigilant Committee of Philadelphia. He actively participated in the first Negro Convention, held in 1831 in Philadelphia, serving as the chaplain, and working with such men as William Whipper, Junius C. Morel, James Cornish, James Pennington and Abraham Shadd.  He eventually took a post as pastor of the First Colored Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg, to which he brought his fierce anti-slavery crusade.

 
Gardner, Benjamin, Sr.
Location: Licking Township, Clarion County ; Role: UGRR conductor

Documentation: A. J. Davis, History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania, 1887, p. 122.

Benjamin Gardner was an elderly farmer living in Licking Township, "two or three miles north of Callensburg," who received fugitive slaves from James Fulton of Toby Township.  Fulton usually delivered fugitives by wagon under cover of darkness, although historian Davis reports "Once of twice Mr. Fulton was bold enough to conduct them in daylight."  From his home, Benjamin Gardner would send them sixteen miles to Elihu Chadwick, in Venango County.

The 1850 census shows Benjamin Gardner as a 78 year-old farmer, born in New Jersey.  His contact, Elihu Chadwick, was also born in New Jersey.

 
Garretson, William
Location: Tioga, Tioga County; Role: Abolitionist; UGRR conductor

Documentation: John F. Meginess, History of Tioga County, 1897.

Ohio born William Garretson studied with Dr. Webster Lewis in Lewisberry, York County, later moved to Tioga where he practiced law and was elected a state representative.  He worked with Thaddeus Stevens on the common school law and became an UGRR conductor in Tioga.

 
Garrison, William Lloyd
Location: Boston; Role: Speaking Engagement in Harrisburg

Documentation: "The Eagle Abroad," The North Star, December 3, 1847

Garrison and Frederick Douglass came to Harrisburg on August 7, 1847 at the invitation of William W. Rutherford to deliver an anti-slavery lecture at the county courthouse, but were met by a hostile white crowd that threw rotten eggs and stones. Garrison was hit by an egg and Douglass was hit by a stone. They were able to deliver their lectures at the Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church in front of a supportive audience.  While they stayed in Harrisburg, Garrison stayed with Rutherford and Douglass stayed with John Wolf.

 
Gibbons, Daniel 1775 - 1853
Hannah Wierman Gibbons (see also the Wierman Family of Adams County)
Location: Lancaster, Lancaster County; Role: UGRR stationmaster, abolitionist

Documentation:  R. C. Smedley, History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, 1883, reprinted 2005, pp 53-58.

The Gibbons' farm is described by UGRR historian R. C. Smedley as the most important station in Lancaster County.  It was the first station encountered by fugitives traveling from Columbia, generally sent by Robert Loney and William Wright.  A Quaker, Daniel Gibbons inherited his father's hatred of slavery and was believed to be aiding fugitive slaves as early as 1797, making him one of the first white UGRR activists in Lancaster County.  Daniel and Hannah Gibbons may have helped over 1,000 freedom seekers to escape bondage before Daniel died in 1853.

Gibbons carefully recorded names, place of origin, master's names and new names of fugitives, but after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law he burned his records.  Prior to 1827, Gibbons sent fugitives to a Quaker named Jackson, in Robinson Township, Berks County.  He later sent fugitives to Thomas Bonsall and Lindley Coates.  Others to whom Gibbons forwarded freedom seekers included Thomas Whitson of Bart Township and Jeremiah Moore in Christiana.

 
Gibbons, Joseph, Dr. 1818 - 
Location: Lancaster, Lancaster County; Role: UGRR conductor, abolitionist

Documentation:  R. C. Smedley, History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, 1883, reprinted 2005, pp 59-63.

Joseph Gibbons was the son of Hannah and Daniel Gibbons, and assisted his parents in their UGRR activities.  He took on the role of conductor as a teenager, making night runs to shepherd fugitives to and from the family farm.  As an adult, he furthered abolitionist politics by an active role in the Liberty Party, and later helped to organize the Republican Party in Pennsylvania.  He married Phebe Earle, daughter of a prominent Philadelphia anti-slavery lawyer.

Obituary: A PROMINENT FRIEND DEAD. LANCASTER, Pa., Dec. 10. -- Dr. Joseph Gibbons, a prominent member of the Society of Friends and publisher of the "Friends Journal," of Philadelphia, died suddenly yesterday at his home in Bird-in-Hand, this county, aged 65 years. Deceased was a strong Abolitionist, and took a prominent part in the underground railroad scheme which extended aid to fugitive slaves in thier efforts to escape from bondage.
Harrisburg Telegraph, 10 December 1883, p1.

 
Gilbert, Amos
Location: Lancaster, Lancaster County; Role: UGRR conductor, abolitionist

Documentation:  Bart Township Quaker Amos Gilbert aided fugitives sent by the Gibbons. He is an important figure in the story of the escape of Olvier C. Kelly from Howard County, Maryland, in 1848. Kelly spent time at the Gilbert farm and was so taken by the family's kindness and help that he adopted the surname Gilbert. The reminiscences of O.C. Gilbert are an important primary UGRR resource, and were used to establish the Lancaster home of Thaddeus Stevens, through which O.C. Gilbert and others passed, on the NPS Network to Freedom.

 
Gildersleeve, Rev. William Camp 1795 - 1871
Location: Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County ; Role:  Abolitionist; UGRR conductor

Documentation: Rhamanthus M. Stocker, Centennial History of Susquehanna County, Philadelphia, 1887, 320-321. The Friend of Man, 1 February 1837.

Rev. William C. Gildersleeve sheltered fugitives at his home and store located near Ross Street in Wilkes-Barre.  His abolitionist views were unpopular in the area, and he faced regular threats to his safety. Gildersleeve conducted fugitives from the Wilkes-Barre area to Montrose, Susquehanna County.  Upon reaching Montrose they were directed by Benjamin R. Lyon to David Post or Isaac Post.  Gildersleeve was active in the abolitionist cause as early as the 1830s. 

 
Gillingham, James  1768 - 1865
Location: Pottsville, Schuylkill County ; Role:  Stationmaster, abolitionist

Documentation: Charles L. Blockson, African Americans in Pennsylvania: Above Ground and Underground, an Illustrated Guide.

James Gillingham was born into a Bucks County Quaker family.  He married in Chester County and at some point relocated to Pottsville.  As an Underground Railroad agent and stationmaster, Gillingham received fugitives from the Rutherford family in Harrisburg route by way of Pine Grove.  He hid them in the basement or crawlspace under his Mahantongo Street home.  At a safe time he would then forward them on toward Wilkes-Barre, possibly to William Gildersleeve.

 
Goodridge, William
Location: York ; Role:  Stationmaster

Documentation: William J. Switala, Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania, 2001, p. 122.

Born into slavery in Baltimore, William Goodridge was apprenticed to a tanner in York, Pennsylvania.  Upon gaining his freedom he learned barbering and began his business in York.  An intrepid businessman, Goodridge rapidly prospered, owning railroad cars and a popular variety store.  He used his businesses as fronts for a successful Underground Railroad operation, hiding fugitives in his Center Square store and home, and in his railroad cars.  Goodridge hid escaped Harpers Ferry raider Osborne Perry Anderson for several weeks before sending him to Philadelphia.

 
Gray, Joseph
Location: Graysville, Greene County ; Role: UGRR stationmaster, conductor

Documentation: Earle Robert Forrest, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, 1926, p. 424, 425.

Joseph Gray received fugitive slaves from Crowe's Mills via Isaac Teagarden on Wheeling Creek.  Because his home was near a public road, Gray found it necessary to hide fugitives in a wooded ravine nearby.  Gray took fugitives in a wagon to Kenneth McCoy at West Alexander, Washington County.  He concealed his charges by hiding them under loads of grain, hay, and with pigs.

 
Gray, William
Location: Wayne Township, Erie County ; Role: UGRR stationmaster

Documentation: Gregory Wilson/Warren County Historical Society, "Underground Railroad Sites in Warren County, PA," 2005, http://www.paundergroundrailroad.com/sites.htm, accessed January 6, 2006; Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, 1884.

In an incident reported in the Warren Ledger and reprinted on the Sugar Grove Convention pages, several slaves were hidden on Seth McDonald's property in Farmington Township, Warren County, in 1851.  Their next stop was with William Gray at Beaver Dam, Erie County.  William Gray was one of the first white inhabitants of Beaver Dam.  He established an underground railroad operation in the town before later moving to Waterford.  From Beaver Dam, Gray would take fugitives to Erie.

 
Green, Shields, a.k.a. "Emperor" Green
Location: Chambersburg ; Role:  Harpers Ferry raider

Documentation: National Park Service, John Brown's Raid, 1973, pp. 23.

Shields Green escaped slavery in Charleston, South Carolina and made his way north, gradually ending up as an acquaintance of Frederick Douglass.  Green accompanied Douglass to a Chambersburg quarry in August 1859 for a meeting with John Brown to discuss the upcoming raid on Harpers Ferry.  Although Douglass declined to participate in the raid, Green agreed to join in, telling Douglass "I believe I'll go with the old man."  During the course of the raid Green became trapped in the Engine House with Brown, several other raiders and the hostages.  When the Engine House was stormed by a detachment of Marines commanded by Robert E. Lee and led by J.E.B. Stuart, Shields Green was captured.  He was tried, found guilty of treason, and executed.

 
Griest, Amos
Griest, Margaret Garretson
Location: York, Pennsylvania ; Role:  UGRR stationmaster, Quaker abolitionist

Documentation: George Prowell, History of York County, Pennsylvania, p. 596.

Amos Griest lived in York and watched the Baltimore Pike for approaching fugitive slaves, often sent by the Jessop family.  He hid them in his West Market Street home until they could be sent further, generally into Lancaster County.  He worked with William Goodridge to move fugitive slaves on.  He eventually moved to Menallen Township, Adams County.

 
Griest, Cyrus
Location: Menallen Township, Adams County ; Role:  UGRR stationmaster, Quaker abolitionist

Documentation: George M. Neely, Jr., "The Anti-Slavery Movement and Underground Railroad Activity in Adams County," Gettysburg College thesis, 1930, Gettysburg, cited in Debra Sandoe McCauslin, Reconstructing the Past: Puzzle of a Lost Community, 2005, Gettysburg, PA, pages 8-11.  G. Craig Caba, Episodes of Gettysburg and the Underground Railroad, 1998, p. 92-97.

Cyrus Griest's farm was located in the "Quaker Valley," an area composed of several families of the Society of Friends who settled in Menallen Township, Adams County, in the 1730's.  The community, just north of Gettysburg, consisted of numerous large farms linked by internal private roads, and was fiercely abolitionist in sentiment.  Historian Craig Caba notes "The Wrights, Wiermans, and Griest families cooperated in this effort.  Generally speaking, these families intermarried over the 18th and early 19th centuries, forming a closely knit extended family of considerable size.  It was modestly claimed that over the decades of anti-slavery activity, more than a thousand fugitives safely passed through this area." (page 92)

Cyrus Griest reportedly received fugitives from Edward Mathews, an African American conductor from nearby Yellow Hill.  Mathews would hide the freedom seekers in a springhouse on the Griest farm.  Griest and his family would feed them, and then the following evening, or when safe, conduct the fugitives to William Wright, in York Springs.  Sometimes Griest would conduct the fugitives further north, to Pine Grove Furnace in Cumberland County.

 
Griffith, Mode
Location: South Middleton Township, Cumberland County ; Role:  UGRR activist

Documentation: Richard L. Tritt, "The Underground Railroad at Boiling Springs," in At a Place Called the Boiling Springs, Richard L. Tritt and Randy Watts, editors, 1995, pp. 111-117.

Mode Griffith actively aided abolitionist Daniel Kaufman of Boiling Springs in hiding fugitive slaves.  In one incident, he safely guided a large group of nine men that he found out in the open after daylight to the home of Daniel Kaufman, and helped Kaufman hide the group in the Island Grove hiding place.

 
Grubb, Clement B.
Location: Various locations, Lancaster and Lebanon Counties ; Role:  Employer of fugitive slaves

Documentation: Richard L. Tritt, "Slave Case," Carlisle Herald & Expositor, 27 August 1845.

Clement B. Grubb employed fugitive slaves at his various iron furnaces scattered throughout Lancaster and Lebanon counties. He operated or owned the Mount Hope, Mount Vernon, Manada, and Codorus charcoal furnaces, and the St. Charles, in Columbia, which he built, and the Henry Clay furnace, at or near Columbia. In 1845, a fugitive slave that had been employed by Grubb for several years, was captured and remanded by the Lancaster County judge to his master in Maryland. Grubb interceded and purchased the freedom of the man, William Dorsey, for $600. (Carlisle Herald and Expositor, 27 August 1845)

 



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