The Freewill Baptist churches in Southeastern Indiana were significant in that both ministers and lay people were involved directly in the active Underground Railroad. Excerpts from the minutes of the local quarterly association meeting were published in the Morning Star, the national news journal of the northern Freewill Baptists out of Bates, Maine. These minutes include the names of several known UGRR activists. It is believed that association meetings were a natural way of communicating signals and information needed for a secure UGRR network.
Information from Freewill Baptist Quarterly Meetings
22Feb1843 Morning Star
Ripley Quarterly Meeting, Sparta Jan 27-29 1843
Moderator: P. Anthony
Corresponding Messengers to Switzerland QM: Elds R. Kelly, E.F. Stites, Brothers C. Larabee, A. Persinger, N. Hartly, I. Oathoudt, D. Hall, T.S. Grimes
Committee to meet with Switzerland QM to adopt constitution: Eld R. Kelly, P. Anthony, I Oathoudt, T. S. Grimes, D. Hall, E. Fuller, and J. Stevens
Voted to hold next QM with the church at Delaware. Clerk: Jefferson Stevens.
22Feb1843 Morning Star
Indiana Yearly Meeting F.W.B. – Constitution adopted January 1843
Signed by Ripley QM – Richard Kelly, Philip Anthony, Isaac Oathoudt, Thomas S. Grimes, Daniel Hall, Elijah Fuller, Jefferson Stevens
Signed by Switzerland QM – Abram Adkinson, Robert Rickets, Daniel Rickets
28Jun1843 Morning Star
Ripley Quarterly Meeting at Delaware, May 26-28, 1843. Brother Isaac Oathoudt presided, Elders Gould and Adkinson from Switzerland QM met with us;
Preachers: Gould, Adkinson of Switzerland, Kelly and Stites of Ripley
Appointed Corresponding Messengers to next session of Switzerland QM: Elder E.F. Stites, E. Fuller, A. Fuller, T. Gloyd, E. Watson, T.S. Grimes
Appointed Book Agent: Edler E.F. Stites
Next session to be held with the church at Sparta, Jefferson Stevens, Clerk
05Jul1843 Morning Star
Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with the Harmony Church, Switzerland Co, 2-4 June 1843, preachers Elders L. Gould and E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger, Clerk, Posey Township, Switzerland Co, Indiana.
02Aug1843 Morning Star
Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with the Liberty Church, Ripley Co., June 1843. Preaching by Elders N. Meader, Rogers Ide, and Brother Mitchel, a licentiate from Miami QM. Committee to designate next meeting place: C. R. Faulkner, T.N. Burroughs, and Ichabod Sheldon. Have employed Elder I. Sheldon to travel for one quarter. G.S. Walker, Clerk.
27Sept1843 Morning Star
Ripley Quarterly Meeting with church at Sparta on 25-27 August. Brother Samuel Gookins, Moderator. Elders L. Gould and A. Adkinson from Switzerland QM preached with Elders R. Kelly and E.F. Stites. Next session with Mainville church, Warren OH in October. Brother T.S. Grimes publicly set apart to the ministry; ordination sermon and hand of fellowship by Elder R. Kelly, prayer by Eld E.F. Stites and charge by Elder L. Gould. Jefferson Stevens, Clerk at Delaware, Ripley County.
27Sept1843 – Morning Star
Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with York church 1-3 September 1843, protracted 2-3 days by Elder E.F. Stites and others. Next session with church at Mt. Sterling. Cheney Munger, Clerk.
01Nov1843 – Morning Star
Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with Sherburne Church, Ripley Co, 22-24 September. Visiting brethren from Miami QM and Elder S. Hathorn from Maine. Received the Union and Freedom churches which “have been raised since our last QM through instrumentality of Eld. I. Sheldon. G.S. Walker appointed corresponding secretary to Switzerland QM, Elder I. Sheldon to travel until next QM. Preaching by Elders Hathorn, Mitchell and Rogers Ide. Next session to be with Freedom Church, Otter Creek in December. G. W. Walker, Clerk.
31Jan1844 – Morning Star
Dearborn Quarterly Meeting at Freedom Church, Otter Creek Township, Ripley Co 22-24 December. Heavy rains and bad traveling, few delegates present. Received Elder s. Hathorn corresponding messenger from Miami QM. Preaching by Elder S. Hathorn, I. Sheldon and R. Ide. Elders R. Ide and I. Sheldon corresponding messengers to Miami QM. Next session with the Colby Church, Sparta Twp, Dearborn Co in March. G. S. Walker, Clerk at Sparta, Indiana.