From Ohio History Central
The Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was an African-American church established in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1821.
Before founding the Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, many African Americans in Chillicothe attended the Walnut Street Methodist Church with whites. In this church, blacks faced discrimination. Whites forced the African-American parishioners to sit in a balcony, separate from white congregants. Whites also prohibited African Americans from taking communion until after all of the whites had completed this rite.
Unhappy with these discriminatory practices, in 1821, Peter James and William Paul Quinn formed Quinn Chapel Church. In 1823, the church allied itself with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming the first African Methodist Episcopal Church west of the Allegheny Mountains. Among the Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church's early members was Thomas Woodson, a former slave of President Thomas Jefferson. While much evidence suggests that Jefferson fathered several children with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves, it does not appear that Thomas Woodson, although he was one of Hemings's sons, was a descendent of this liaison.
The Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church served as an important stop on the Underground Railroad in Ohio. The congregation played an active role in assisting fugitive slaves to freedom in both the North and Canada. Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church continues to hold services today at 181 West Main Street in Chillicothe.
The Quinn Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church illustrates the prejudice that existed in Ohio during the years before the American Civil War. Ohio was a state that did not allow slavery. Nevertheless, that did not mean that whites were open to granting African Americans equal rights. Free blacks found that it was difficult to get fair treatment, and they often formed their own communities and institutions away from whites.
- Woodson, Byron W., Sr. A President in the Family: Thomas Jefferson, Sally Hemings, and Thomas Woodson. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2001.