Jacob Ebersole

From Ohio History Central

Jacob Ebersole was a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Clermont County, Ohio.

Little is known of Ebersole's youth, other than he was born in Clermont County in October 1812. His father was a veteran of the American Revolution and a large landowner near New Richmond, Ohio. Upon obtaining adulthood, Ebersole received from his father four hundred acres of land near New Richmond. In 1851, Ebersole added an additional 116 acres to his holdings. He earned his living as a farmer.

Ebersole also participated in the Underground Railroad. His home overlooked the Ohio River, and he would signal fugitive slaves when it was safe for them to cross the river. Ebersole would send a skiff across the Ohio River to transport the runaways to his home. Ebersole usually transported the African Americans to Williamsburg, Ohio, the next stop on the Underground Railroad. Ebersole's sister, Catherine, also married local abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Robert E. Fee.

Jacob Ebersole 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 Ebersole.

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