Side A: Congress passed Fugitive Slave Laws in 1793 and 1850, allowing federal marshals to arrest slaves that had escaped to the North and take them back to their southern owners. They could also arrest northerners suspected of aiding runaway slaves. These laws were contested throughout the North, including Ohio where one case received national press. It involved escaped slave Addison White who arrived in Mechanicsburg in August 1856. There he met abolitionist Udney Hyde and stayed at his farm while Hyde recovered from a leg injury. White’s master Daniel White learned of his location and went to Mechanicsburg in April 1857 with federal marshals. When attempting to take Addison and arrest Hyde on grounds of violating the Fugitive Slave Law, Hyde’s daughter ran to town and brought back residents with pitchforks and shovels to fight the marshals. Fearing for their lives, the marshals left, but came back to arrest the men who protected White. [continued on other side]
Side B: [continued from other side] Arresting Charles Taylor, Edward Taylor, Russell Hyde, and Hiram Gutridge, the marshals, saying they were taking the men into Urbana for a preliminary trial on charges of harboring and protecting a fugitive slave, instead headed south to Kentucky. Learning of the arrests, a large number of Champaign County citizens set off on horseback to free their neighbors. The Clark County sheriff joined in the pursuit, but was shot near South Charleston when trying to stop the marshals. The running battle ended in Lumberton near Xenia when the Greene County sheriff arrested the marshals. The case was finally settled when the people of Mechanicsburg paid $900 for Addison White’s freedom. During the Civil War White joined the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and returned to Mechanicsburg after the war to work for the city’s Street Department He and his second wife Amanda are buried in the nearby Maple Grove Cemetery.
Sponsors: Main Street Mechanicsburg, Champaign County Bicentennial Historical Marker Committee, and The Ohio Historical Society