UGRR - "The Salem Chapel" British Episcopal Church
N 43° 09.904 W 079° 14.406
17T E 643063 N 4780648
Quick Description: One of the ending locations of the Underground Railroad, with ties to Harriet Tubman.
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date Posted: 10/10/2006 3:48:20 AM
Waymark Code: WMTRY
Description as found at the following resourse - Harriet Tubman - BME Church
St. Catharines was a very important part of the UGRR movement. It was the chief terminal of Harriet's activities in Canada. Harriet herself lived in this city from 1851 - 1858. When she arrived in 1851 with eleven Freedom Seekers, she meet Reverend Hiram Wilson at the AME Church, which became her place of worship. For the next seven years, Harriet would continue to bring all slaves who dared to escape to St. Catharines.
Image of the church
In 1852 the Refugee Slaves' Friends Society was formed in St. Catharines with Harriet as one of its leading members. Socializing with very prominent people such as the town's mayor, Harriet would discuss the advancement ofher people. In doing such, she immediately became an indispensable asset to the local Black community. Harriet's good friend, Frederick Douglass paid her a visit this same year to discuss the living conditions of their people.
Plaque at the site
When Harriet arrived in St. Catharines, the church was known as "Bethel Chapel" AME. It was a small log building constructed by African-American Freedom Seekers. In 1853 it was decided that a larger church was needed to assist the growing Methodist congregation that arrived via the UGRR. The larger church was completed in 1855.
In 1854 Harriet successfully rescued six Freedom Seekers and brought them to St. Catharines. Three of the six were her brothers who joined the AME Church. The following year it was decided that the AME Churches in Canada would change their name to establish their own distinct identity. At the Canadian General Conference in 1856, some of the AME Churches changed their name to the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church. The British Crown of England granted the permission for the free Black citizens to use the word British in their title. The AME Church in St. Catharines became known as Salem Chapel.
National Historic Plaque
Harriet had become a legend. She had made about 8 dangerous trips back to the South. Her fame had spread throughout Canada and the United States. She was known as Moses to her people. Southern slave holders pooled their money together to offer a reward as high as $40,000.00. This reward was offered for her capture - dead or alive! Each fugitive Harriet would help would also have a reward offered for his or her capture.
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