Darleen Amobi of the Hockessin Historical Society led a workshop at the Hockessin Library regarding the Underground Railroad and the Anti-Slavery Society in Hockessin.


Darleen Amobi of the Hockessin Historical Society led a workshop at the Hockessin Library regarding the Underground Railroad and the Anti-Slavery Society in Hockessin.

According to Amobi, Delaware abolitionists wanted to sign petitions to “stop slavery immediately.”  But that sort of activity had to be kept quiet because it was illegal to help slaves. 

The American Antislavery Society, led by William Lloyd Garrison, was first organized in Philadelphia. The Society campaigned that slavery was illegal under natural law and within five years, the organization had more than 1,350 chapters and over 250,000 members. In 1837, the abolitionist group met in Hockessin at the Friends Meeting House, located on Old Wilmington Road.

The fight against slavery continued in Delaware in January 1847, when 80 citizens signed a petition requesting to adopt a plan to abolish slavery, and on Feb. 4, 1847, 44 citizens signed a petition to enact a law to end slavery.

Descendant of famous abolitionist

Robert E. Seeley, a descendant of the famous abolitionist Thomas Garrett, spoke about Garrett’s involvement in the Underground Railroad. Garrett, who lived in Upper Darby, Pa., helped over 2,700 freedom seekers to freedom.

Garrett was a white Quaker, whose family hid runaway slaves in its Delaware County farmhouse when he was a child. Garrett credited the kidnapping of a black servant employed by his family who was nearly forced into slavery as an eye-opening experience that would eventually lead to his devotion to the abolitionist cause.

“He believed he was a vessel used by God to put an end to slavery,” Seeley said.

Hockessin farm part of Underground Railroad

Jacob Heald, born in 1800, was raised in Hockessin on a farm on Old Public Road. When he was about 30, with a wife and young daughter, he bought a farmhouse on Old Wilmington Road, between the Hockessin Friends Meeting House and the Pennsylvania border.

An obituary of this Quaker farmer and teacher states that "his house was one of the 'stations' on the 'Underground Railroad', and many fugitives were fed thereat and helped by him on to liberty." Obituaries written after the death of his daughter Lydia also refer to her parents' house as an underground station.

Heald and his wife Sarah opposed slavery, subscribed to antislavery literature, and raised their children to follow the golden rule and the inner monitor, "What does thy conscience tell thee?"

The Healds’ farmhouse is still standing and is privately owned.