In 1814 Levi Coffin (1798-1877), a Quaker and North Carolina native, his father Vestal and brother Addison, helped to found the North Carolina Manumission Society. In 1818, the Society merged with the American Colonization Society. Rejecting the notion that slaves should be removed to Africa to obtain freedom, the Coffins separated themselves from the Society to take more decisive action. The Coffins began by helping only kidnapped slaves escape to freedom but progressed to assisting any fugitive slave. Their efforts acted at the genesis of the Underground Railroad in North Carolina . But by 1825, anti-Quaker sentiment had grown so predominant that the Coffins moved to Richmond, Indiana . There they established an underground that operated ceaselessly for decades.
Levi was a well-respected community leader with several business interests in Newport. Instead of hiding his work, he jokingly boasted about being the “President of the Underground Railroad” and publically spoke out against slavery. He often used the law to his advantage and was friends with Henry Ward Beecher and Frederick Douglass. Catharine was also deeply committed to the cause. She organized sewing circles that made new clothing for freedom seekers and ensured their safety and comfort in their home.
Below is a video of his home…