Side A: John Malvin (1795-1880) was an operative on the Underground Railroad and an ardent member of anti-slavery and abolitionist causes. Born in Dumfries, Virginia of a free mother and enslaved father, Malvin was apprenticed at an early age to learn carpentry and taught himself to read and write. In 1827, he moved to Cincinnati where he became an ordained preacher and an activist in the cause of freedom. In 1831, with his wife Harriet, he moved to Cleveland where he became a charter member of the First Baptist Church, a sawmill operator, and captain and owner of the canal boat Auburn. (continued on other side)
Side B: (continued from other side) John Malvin later owned the lake vessel Grampus and transported limestone from Kelly’s Island to Cleveland. Malvin was a founding member of the School Fund Society that established schools for African Americans throughout Ohio. He was also an agent for the “Colored American” newspaper, an abolitionist sheet published by African Americans in New York City. As an abolitionist, Malvin personally helped at least five slaves escape to freedom in Canada. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he recruited African Americans for service in the Union, some joining the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.