SMITHFIELD - An Ohio Historical Marker, dedicated to the promotion of knowledge about the "Society of Friends in Early Smithfield," now stands in the Smithfield Friends Church Cemetery. It is one of 11 in Jefferson County and is part of the Markers Program started in 1957 to share the state's history in a highly visible form.
Cathy Nelson of the Ohio Historical Society said the marker was put together in Marion and will now grace the historic grave area where Civil War soldiers are buried.
Cindy Straus Grace, Friends of Smithfield secretary and program emcee, told the group gathered outside the cemetery that work was started four years ago to bring focus on the Underground Railroad.
MARKER UNVEILED — A historical marker provided by the Ohio Historical Society was dedicated at its Smithfield Friends Church Cemetery location Saturday. It was covered during the program and slated to be removed at the conclusion but rain called everyone into the Smithfield Friends Church to continue with the program instead. From left, front, Cathy Nelson of the Ohio Historical Society; Nancy Dalton, speaking on McIntyre; Cindy Straus Grace, dedication emcee. Second row, Mayor Ted Boyd, Piney Fork American Legion Commander Tom McCain, Derol Martin, Smithfield Friends Church officer and historian; and Commissioner Thomas E. Graham, National Anthem. Back row, members of the Smithfield Fire Department. Standing to the immediate right is Diane Matthews Rodd, project researcher. -- Esther McCoy
Grace told about attending a meeting concerning the marker dedication with Diane Matthew Rodd and being told to focus on something interesting in the community.
When Rodd did the research for the project, she learned of a book complied by Marie Mooney and Ella Maxwell in 1970 and used this as a foundation for her studies.
She gave the history of the Quaker religion and its unfaltering leaders and their desire to worship God in their own way. Along with the Quaker houses of worship being filled, Rodd told that there would be 200 non-Quakers waiting for the meeting to end to speak with the leaders. Many were greatly in need of food and each were given a loaf of bread and taught to be good to all men.
Quakers were whipped, had their ears cut off and their tongues injured and defined as witches and devils but the religion persisted.
Opposed to slavery, many Quakers kept a station for runaway slaves. Such a farm belonged to Joseph and Rebecca Cope, located on state Route 151, adjacent to the Northern Cemetery in the northwest section of the village.
Nancy Dalton read from the 1970 history of Maxwell and Mooney to tell about the formation of McIntyre, or Hatai, by Nathaniel Bedford of Charles City, Va., who liberated seven black families and sent them to the area that was called McIntyre. Many of the descendants of those original slaves have gone on to become educators and hold prized jobs, she noted.
Dr. John S. Mattox, Flushing Underground Railroad Museum curator, recalled Martha West, a great lady who came to the museum and took part in the tours. The areas include Flushing, New Athens, Hopedale and Cadiz, in Harrison County; Smithfield and Mount Pleasant in Jefferson and Morristown, St. Clairsville, and Martins Ferry in Belmont County.
Cadiz was the home of John Bingham, prosecutor of the Lincoln Conspirators and proposed a resolution that elminated slaves and slave states.
The Friends Yearly Meeting House, built in 1814, was the first such meeting extablishment west of the Alleghenies. The Quakers there provided leadership for the anti-slavery movement. As early as 1816, they were harboring and assiting escaped slaves.
The third annual convention of the Ohio Anti-Slavery society was held in Mount Pleasant in 1837. In 1848, Quakers established the Free Labor Store where no products of slave labor were permitted to be sold.
Refreshments were served at the Smithfield Historical Society Museum and the Smithfield Fire Department was on hand with its new fire truck.