Henry Pickrell

From Ohio History Central

Henry Pickrell was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Logan County, Ohio.

Henry Pickrell was born in 1775 in Grayson County, Virginia. He was raised as a member of the Society of Friends. On October 31, 1798, he married Achsah Paxson. The young couple soon moved to Ohio, where they eventually settled in Logan County, helping found Pickrelltown. Henry Pickrell earned his living as a farmer.

As Quakers, the Pickrells opposed slavery. They actively assisted fugitive slaves in attaining their freedom on the Underground Railroad. The Pickrell home, which was located on County Road 28, just north of Pickrelltown, contained four hiding places for fugitive slaves. Three of these hiding places were behind the home's walls, and the final one was in the basement. The Pickrells would place the runaway slaves inside wooden boxes large enough to hide two people and place them in a wagon, transporting them to the next stop on the Underground Railroad. Many of the fugitives supposedly chose to settle in Pickrelltown, finding relative safety among the Quakers.

Henry Pickrell 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 Pickrell.

See Also


  1. Siebert, Wibur H. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Russell & Russell, 1898.