From Ohio History Central
Massey Hutton was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Atwater, Ohio.
Little is known of Hutton's life. She was a member of the Society of Friends, a religious group committed to slavery's abolition. In 1818, Hutton, her husband, John, and their eleven children moved from South Carolina to Atwater, Ohio. By the mid 1830s, Massey Hutton had become active on the Underground Railroad, assisting fugitive slaves in gaining their freedom. She housed the runaways usually in her home, sending them to Cleveland once it was safe for the fugitives to continue on their journey. On at least one occasion, Hutton concealed a male slave in a dress and bonnet as a slave catcher approached. She sent the disguised man to a neighbor's house, convincing the slave catcher that the male slave was in reality Hutton's female neighbor. Hutton's entire family played an active role on the Underground Railroad.
Hutton represents the growing tensions over slavery between Northerners and Southerners during the early nineteenth century. While many Northern states had provisions outlawing slavery, runaway slaves did not necessarily gain their freedom upon arriving in a free state. Federal law permitted slaveowners to reclaim their runaway slaves. Some slaves managed to escape their owners on their own, while others sometimes received assistance from sympathetic Northerners, such as Hutton.
- Quier, A.C. Letter. 15 April 1896. The Wilbur H. Siebert Underground Railroad Collection. The Ohio Historical Society. Columbus, OH.