HARTFORD - A local couple studying historic preservation and the anti-slavery movement has been researching the local routes the Underground Railroad took through parts of Trumbull County.
Husband and wife Roger Juntunen and Jane Spies of Hubbard spoke recently at the Gustavus-Kinsman historical societies combined gathering about many of their findings made by studying of local and regional connections to the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement in Gustavus, Hartford, Vernon and Kinsman.
The couple has taken classes from Hartford resident Chris Klingemier and has done extensive research on his historic home and others in the area.
Hubbard residents Jane Spies, standing, and Roger Juntunen, at right, work with Chris Klingemier of Hartford in researching Trumbull County connections to the Underground Railroad. The three met at Klingemier’s historic home in Hartford, where abolitionists may have attended nearby meeting house and tavern in 1847. To see or purchase these photos and other items, visit cu.tribtoday.com
Juntunen said they have studied abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who through their research was reported to have gone to a meeting house and stayed at a tavern in Hartford in the area where Klingemier's home stands.
''We have narrowed this down to two possible taverns in Hartford of 1847. It will take more research to confirm that it was Klingemier's house. So this remains a mystery for now, although we are pursuing more information," Juntunen said.
Juntunen said Garrison may have stayed at the Jones House in August of 1847 when he came to Ohio to attend an anti-slavery convention in New Lyme, Ashtabula County, indicated in letters Garrison wrote to his wife, Helen, from Youngstown and New Lyme.
Researchers Roger Juntunen and Jane Spies are looking for anyone who may have papers, documents, diaries and memoirs related to the anti-slavery movement and Underground Railroad through Trumbull County.
Relatives, descendants and anyone else with information can call them at 330-534-8948 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The two are studying historic preservation and public history at Youngstown State University, working toward Master of Arts in history degrees.
Spies, originally from Pittsburgh, said they are looking for primary documents to support stories and information they have received about people and places connected to the Underground Railroad.
''We are interested from an academic point in studying the information an getting documentation,'' Juntunen said.
One way they are doing this is by visiting old historic houses and other commercial buildings and churches from the time period in Kinsman, Hartford Hubbard and Gustavus. They also went to Beaver County, Pa., looking for ''above ground underground railroad sites.''
''A lot of the historic homes we have looked at are from this pre-Civil War period,'' Spies said.
Juntunen said they were allowed to look inside many of the historic homes, including attics and basements, and identify the time period based on style and type of construction.
''We not only look at the houses, but what people have written in letters and other documents that talk about different things from that time period,'' he said.
The two said they have found little tidbits about Trumbull County in a letter from Garrison, who came to the area in 1845 and had stopped in Hartford.
Juntunen said they have also done research on Abby Kelley Foster, a forerunner of modern-day civil rights, who spoke out against slavery and became an early female abolitionist.
''She was a very vocal woman speaker at a time when women weren't suppose to speak in public. She was active with many anti-slavery societies,'' Juntunen said, noting that Foster did not get mentioned in many history books.
Spies said the Western Reserve area of Ohio has historic significance with the homes.
''This area is so unique. You go into Pennsylvania and not see what you see in Ohio,'' Juntunen said.
The two have worked with the Ohio Historical Society and Mahoning Valley Historical Society, studying old maps, title searches, books and letters.
''We are finding new things all the time which are little pieces to the puzzle,'' Spies said.
They have also reviewed much of the research done by noted Ohio State University historian and professor Wilbur H. Siebert with his collection at the Ohio Historical Society. Siebert collected many letters from the 1800s and did much research on the Underground Railroad.
"A lot of unique information has been compiled. This is an amazing time in our history," she said.
Juntunen said through Siebert's research they found many references to Gustavus, such as the store of Stod Stevens and others involved with the anti-slavery movement. Information indicated slaves were sent through Trumbull County through Gustavus, he said.
Also, there are reference in Siebert's work to an 1836 anti-slavery society.
The researched included the Underground Railroad had hubs in Warren and Salem with the local canal systems used as escape routes. Spies said they located many homes that may have been stops along the Underground Railroad.
Klingemier said Juntunen and Spies are working to document the national significance and how the local landscape fits into the history they are researching.
Klingemier, who teaches a class on early architecture at Youngstown State, said the class teaches students how to analyze early buildings and architecture styles and covers the time period when the Underground Railroad began.
"As they have do research on historic buildings it takes them into an unknown areas,'' he said.
Juntunen and Spies did extensive research on the Dr. Peter Allen house last fall in Kinsman.
One important point about the Allen House that Spies and Juntunen have found a new connection to the early antislavery movement on the part of Dr. Dudley Allen, the son of the first owner, Dr. Peter Allen. Dudley Allen was a longtime resident of the Allen House, and was a secretary for the Kinsman Anti-Slavery Society in 1836, with 60 members reported at that time.
Spies said many of the buildings they have read about are gone or have been modernized.
Juntunen said the 1800s is when there was much attention to the anti-slavery effort and fugitive federal slave act from 1793, which was revamped in 1850s.
''There was a lot of changes going on from 1830s to 1860s with the anti-slavery movement, which became more radical during this time period and split up many families,'' he said.
Spies said they have spoken to different groups and have had people, including one man in Gustavus who told them his grandfather was involved with the anti-slavery movement.
''The fact that there is more information out there is gratifying,'' Spies said, noting she has found many people interested in studying about the Civil War.