Saturday, May 10, 2014

May 9 (Day 27): Ripley, Ohio

Today I cycled all of 3.6 miles. It was technically a layover day but we moved from a campsite in Maysville, KY, to a motel in Aberdeen, OH, to escape the rain. 

I walked my bike on the sidewalk over the entire bridge crossing the Ohio River. Not only was the bridge too narrow to accommodate cyclists; it also had expansion joints that would swallow bike tires. 

Today's route:

This is the Maysville side of the river crossing. Zoom in to check out the 50s era murals. 

Mid bridge; Maysville on the left, Aberdeen on the right. 

Once we were settled into the motel and had done the day's grocery shopping (I was one of the cooks today, so I helped with the shopping), we shuttled with the van to visit two UGRR sites in Ripley. 

The John Rankin House was built by John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, in 1828. This 66-acre farm stands high above Ripley and the Ohio River. While Rankin preached and wrote about his abolitionist views, his sons ran the farm. Ripley was one of three most highly used crossing points along the Ohio River for escaping slaves. The Rankins would put a candle in their window to guide escaping slaves to their home. (The river was half as wide back then--before various dams were added, and much less deep--wadeable in some spots.) Rankin, his wife, and his 13 children "conducted" hundreds of slaves along their escape route. 

The view from the Rankin House:

From photos we saw, in Rankin's day, there were no tall trees down by the river. Rankin could see who was coming and going all along the river from his house. 

The Rankin House is currently undergoing restoration for its grand opening in August. 

The Parker House was built in Ripley by John P. Parker, a man who was born into slavery in 1827, the son of a black woman and a white plantation owner. Sold multiple times, he was first sold away from his mother at the age of eight. The sons of one of his owners taught him to read. After multiple failed escape attempts, Parker was allowed to purchase his freedom at age 18 by earning extra money at a foundry. 

In Ripley, Parker ran a foundry and earned three patents for inventions, including a tobacco press. He was an active conductor on the UGRR, and Kentucky eventually placed a $1,000 bounty on his head. Parker lived in his Ripley home until his death in his 70s. 

Parker wrote about his life in his autobiography, His Promised Land

No comments:

Post a Comment