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Bethel AME Church John Rankin House

A National Historic Landmark, this was the home of Presbyterian minister John Rankin who is reputed to have been one of Ohio's first and most active "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. In addition, he wrote Letters on American Slavery, first published in book form in 1826, and among the first clearly articulated antislavery views printed west of the Appalachians. Letters on American Slavery became standard reading for abolitionists all over the United States by the 1830s. From 1822 to 1865, Rankin, along with his wife and children, assisted hundreds of escaped slaves in their trek to freedom. Located on the Ohio River, John Rankin's home (and Ripley, Ohio in general) were considered one of the first stations on this route of the Underground Railroad. It was here that Harriet Beecher Stowe heard the escaping slave's story which became the basis for part of her famous work, Uncle Tom's Cabin. John Parker, a Ripley abolitionist and former slave who was active in the Underground Railroad, wrote of Rankin, "At times attacked on all sides by masters seeking their slaves, [John Rankin and his sons] beat back their assailant, and held its threshold unsullied. A lighted candle stood as a beacon which could be seen from across the river, and like the north star was the guide to the fleeing slave."

The John Rankin House is located in Ripley, Ohio at 6152 Rankin Road. Now a museum it is open from May 2 through October 31 from 10:00am to 5:00pm Wednesday-Saturday, and 12:00pm to 5:00pm on Sunday. The museum is also open on Sunday, December 16 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm for the Historic House Tour. The museum is open by appointment only during other times of the year, please call 937-392-4044. There is a fee for admission. For further information, visit the museum's website.

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