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Levi Coffin
Birth: Oct. 28, 1798
Guilford County
North Carolina, USA
Death: Sep. 16, 1877
Avondale (Hamilton County)
Hamilton County
Ohio, USA

Educator, Social Reformer. A vast networking of lines, called the Underground Railroad, helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom after they traveled the most difficult part of their journey. People came together to develop this network for the specific purposes of helping fugitive slaves and of defying the law of the land. One of the best known agents of the railroad was Levi Coffin, a Quaker, who was a former Southerner. He moved to Indiana after he married and quickly became involved in anti-slavery issues, including Indiana's connections to the Underground Railroad. However, Coffin wasn't alone in his task because he employed the help of many blacks, such as William Bush. He was so desperate to become free, after his escape from a plantation in the South, William walked the entire way to Levi Coffin's safe house in Newport, Indiana (now Fountain City) wearing only wooden shoes. He stayed on until his death working as a conductor for other runaway slaves. The conductors were responsible for getting the fugitive slaves to the next station. Levi Coffin was born and raised on a farm in a rural area near New Garden, North Carolina, the only son in a family of six girls. He was home schooled by his father and the education received was sufficient to qualify him for a teaching job upon reaching adulthood. Levi was tempered by the cruel treatment of the Negroes. His Quaker upbringing was paramount to his aiding the escape of slaves beginning at age fifteen. He angered slave owners by operating a Sunday school for Blacks where he taught them to read and write using the Bible. Unpopular, he joined other family members and settled in Newport, Indiana (now Fountain City) opening a country store. Coffin prospered, expanding his operations to include cutting pork and manufacturing linseed oil. He was elected director at the State Bank's Richmond branch. His interest in the slaves continued and became active in the secret organization, the "Underground Railroad". Its purpose to transport slaves from member to member until a safe place was reached where the Negro was set free. Hundreds of escaping slaves were hidden as guests by Levi Coffin and his wife Catharine in their house which became known as "Grand Central Station", safe from bounty hunters until passage could be arranged. One of the refugees who found shelter in the home was later immortalized as the character Eliza, the heroine of Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Levi and Catharine Coffin are supposedly depicted in the book as Simeon and Rachel Halliday. The Quakers long before the Civil War urged consumers not to buy goods produced with slave labor. In their convention at Salem, Indiana, they funded Coffin and he was able to open a wholesale warehouse in Cincinnati that handled only cotton goods, sugar and spices produced by free labor. He became president of "The Underground Railroad'. After heading the organization for over thirty years, with the war over and adoption of the fifteenth amendment, Coffin resigned and the organization no longer needed, simply faded away. Levi turned his attention to the "Western Freedmen's Aid Society", which helped educate and provide basic living needs for former slaves. Coffin was the main fund raiser and journeyed to Europe on successful money raising trips In one year alone, he raised over $100,000 dollars. He died in Avondale, Ohio of a heart attack as he neared 80 years of age and was buried beside his wife in historic Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. Crowds of colored people came to his Quaker funeral to say farewell. All of the slaves he and his wife aided reached freedom. Quaker graves are usually unmarked. The Coffin marker is a monument six feet high. Ex-slaves received permission to erect this marker and raised the money. The inscription, "Aiding thousands to gain freedom, a tribute from the colored people of Cincinnati". Legacy...The Coffin house located in Fountain City, Indiana, is today owned by the State of Indiana. The house was restored and is now open to the public and has the designation as a National Historic Landmark. The home's fireplaces, floors, doors, and most of the woodwork are original. The furnishings all predate 1847 and as nearly close as possible when it was the residence of the Coffins. The residence has many unusual hiding places where slaves were able to hide and avoid detection until they could be transported to one of the free states. The house contains an unusual indoor well which concealed the vast amount of water necessary to sustain the many extra guests. A vast amount of items pertaining to slavery are housed here. Coffin was the focus of a book published in 1875, "Reminiscences of Levi Coffin." 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Levi Coffin (1763 - 1833)
  Prudence Williams Coffin (1758 - 1845)
 
 Spouse:
  Catharine White Coffin (1803 - 1881)
 
 Children:
  Jesse S. Coffin (1825 - 1899)*
  Anna U. Coffin (1839 - 1850)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Spring Grove Cemetery
Cincinnati
Hamilton County
Ohio, USA
Plot: Center Sec, 101
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jan 01, 2001
Find A Grave Memorial# 212
Levi Coffin
Added by: Donald Greyfield (inactive)
 
Levi Coffin
Added by: Terry Baer
 
Levi Coffin
Added by: Terry Baer
 
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- Kate Duvall
 Added: Sep. 1, 2014

- Amy Elizabeth
 Added: Aug. 31, 2014
So proud to call you my 1st cousin 6x removed.
- Sandy Lee
 Added: Aug. 13, 2014
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