[Wheatley's] Burlington Pharmacy, built in 1731 and established as a pharmacy in 1841. According to oral tradition, this Quaker-owned building was used frequently to harbor Underground RR fugitives and was the site of anti-slavery rallies. Photo courtesy Cultural & Heritage Department, Burlington County
Underground Railroad: A Route of Escape
During the Civil War (1863-1865),
abolitionists in New Jersey assisted runaway slaves with their
escape to northern free states.
No New Jersey county has a richer black historical
presence than Burlington Country. By 1790, the county had the
largest free black population of any county in New Jersey. This can
be attributed to its location in the Delaware Valley, known as the
"cradle of emancipation," where slaves were freed on a large scale.
The sizeable presence and influence in the valley of Quakers,
America's first organized group to speak out against the evils of
bondage, enabled this region to be the pacesetter regarding black
Underground railroad stations that belonged to whites
provide examples of interracial cooperation and goodwill.
Burlington served as a short stop, where horses were changed, after
a rapid twenty-mile trip from Philadelphia to Princeton. The stop
would be known as Station A. Bordentown, known a Station B, served
as a continuous connection to the line from Philadelphia to
Princeton. Another line ran east through Station B, which followed
the northern route. Its southern route remained independent for
sixty miles before it intersected with the Bordentown corridor.
Another branch of the Philadelphia line extended through Bucks
County, Pennsylvania, to Trenton, then followed a northern course
to New York.
Documentation includes a tour guide of
African-America Historic Sites in Burlington County, a
newspaper article from 1860, and photos.
Originally submitted by: Christopher H. Smith, Representative (4th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.