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The Deadly Cave

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LHelton View Drop Down
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    Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 7:51pm

The Deadly Cave

1.)First published account in 1892 was in three installments in the Middletown Signal/Journal, titled: Underground: The Way that Slaves Were Freed From Their Masters Before The War.

The account was witnessed and told by a man only known as John, owner of the farm this cave is located upon. He stated that he was the last person alive who knew of the cave’s location. His grandfather had discovered this cave in 1790 and sealed it off due to the poisonous gases so know one could enter. In 1845, John and a group of naturalists and geologists from Washington, D.C. came to open and explore this cave. Of the four men who entered the cave, all died from the gases. Then the story of the 21 slaves who died in the cave in 1849 is recanted in George Crout’s story below.

2.) George Crout wrote about the cave in 1999 in Madison Township Bicentennial Sketches (1799-1999), Madison Township Communities, Elk Creek.

…..Before the outbreak of the Civil War, Madison Township citizens had been very divided on the subject of state's right. While few actually supported slavery, many contended that it was a question best left to the decision of each state. Ohio never permitted slavery. There were Abolitionists in Madison who assisted in aiding escaping fugitives through what was known as the Underground Railroad. It is believed that the setting of the following incident occurred somewhere in the Elk Creek area. Middletown was along one branch of the old Underground Railroad, which had a major station at West Elkton. But this organized route of escape for black slaves was neither underground nor a railroad. In this story, an exception to the rule, the "station" was indeed underground. Hidden in the yellowed files of an old local newspaper of 1892 is the narrative of an elderly resident describing an old cave near Middletown, which he wrote was not over six miles from the downtown corner of Main and Central Avenue. His farm homestead had been adjacent to the cave. The narrator's grandfather, one of the area's pioneers, had discovered it. He noted that some mysterious, poisonous gas filled its inner chamber and therefore concealed its opening to keep anyone from entering it. While the family tried to keep this death-trap a secret, others had heard rumors of the underground cave, and a few knew its approximate location. Among these were an Abolitionist who lived at Hamilton, a prominent doctor dedicated to helping. Free slaves by assisting in the Underground Railroad. The narrator's family, being of Quaker background, also believed and supported the cause. One night in 1849 a knock came at the back door of the farmhouse. The narrator of the story and his parents were in the parlor reading. His father was alerted when he heard four slow and distinct raps at the back door---a signal used by the Underground Railroad "conductors." Not wishing to involve his son, he asked him to remain in the parlor, but he and his wife went to answer the kitchen door. All lamps were extinguished. The youth quietly walked over to the closed door between the rooms, climbed up on a chair to look through the transom. He watched and listened. He recognized the Hamilton physician and "conductor" on the Butler County section of the Underground Railroad. The doctor revealed that he had brought two wagon loads of slaves up the highway hoping to get them to West Elkton, but discovered they were being followed by bounty hunters. He told the farmer he had taken the liberty of hiding them in the secret cave adjacent to his farm. Upon hearing of this, the farmer warned that he knew the cave to be a tomb of death, filled with a poisonous gas (probably methane.) He feared that none of the 21 would ever emerge alive. Being very disturbed by the warning, the doctor decided to go back to the cave, after a few hours' rest. It then being well past midnight, the doctor slept until about 4 a.m., then was on his way. He was accompanied by the farmer's son, the farmer being Ill and the son volunteering to go. Both were careful not be observed. They stood before the hidden entrance, nervous, apprehensive. The doctor fell to his knees in prayer. He took a few steps into the cave, and began to call. Getting no response, he tied a handkerchief around his face to prevent the inhalation of any gases, instructing the youth to stand guard at the entrance. After some moments that seemed like hours, the doctor returned, his hands pressing the sides of his head. he fell in a stupor, and was at once revived by the fresh air. He then cried, "We are in the midst of death! They are all dead ... I saw them, counted them --- 21 ---all dead." The doctor then said he must return to Hamilton with the bad news, but warned his friend never to enter the cave, nor to allow others to enter it, asking that he replace the ground so as to conceal it from the sight of man. He told the youth to tell his father at home that his predictions were right, and that the doctor took full responsibility for the fate of the men. The doctor stated, "I alone am to blame and no one can share any of it. It was God's will they should die rather than be recaptured and taken back into slavery. At least they are buried in free land, and their graves on free soil." To this day that cave remains hidden from the sight of man, and the tragic story long forgotten…..

3.) Kevin Williams used Crout’s account and published a story about the cave in The Edgewood.

Crout is quoted as saying, "The story was a legend – I didn’t really know whether it was true or not. The source was shaky." He places the cave in the vicinity of Sebald Park. "It was filled with methane gas." Paul Pushkarr, professor of geology sciences at Wright State University states, "It would be fairly unusual to have a cave of any size in this area. The glaciers are pretty much death to caves." Some large cave systems did survive – Ohio Caverns near Bellefontaine is an example. "There are caves that have high methane gas levels, if there is a lot of water or decaying plant matter inside." Dwight Baldwin, professor of geology at Miami University adds, "That if a cave contained methane, it would have to be a tight compartment within the cave. Caves have to breathe; if the cave was open it would be unusual to have that high of methane." The 1892 article stated, "The poisonous gas was limited to an inner-chamber of the cave."

4.) Roger Miller wrote about the cave in 2004 in Middletown Past, Middletown Journal.

Roger and a group of men searched for this cave in July of 2004. Roger recants the same information as above.

5.) My views on the cave?

I have talked with George and Roger about the cave, its likelihood and its whereabouts. I too, have walked and explored much, if not all of Elk Creek and its tributaries. I have also been told of a large area that is open and could have been the site of a cave on Elk Creek, but since the area is not deep, it may have been more of a rock shelter like those that are abundant in the sandstone banks of the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Southeastern, Ky, where I own property and have greatly explored. However, limestone and Ohio bedrock don’t seem to hold up as well as the other rock types, so a shelter probably wouldn’t be as deep due to break-off and erosion. Another scenario could be that the cave was not only sealed off, but dynamited to keep from ever being entered again. Or could it have been an opening in the earth’s surface from the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 that affected the entire Ohio Valley? One other scenario – on some topographical maps I have of the Township, it shows abandoned mines on the hillside on our side of the river, which would be on private property. I know of nothing else about these mines except that they are labeled as such on the maps. Could one of these be "the cave"? That would explain the methane gas probability. If they were mines, then that is another mystery as well. What was being mined and when? Then again, is this just a rural legend?

Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2009 at 8:08pm

The first part of the story said that the cave was not more than six miles from downtown. From Central and Main streets to Jacksonburg is 5.7 miles. So I would think this would cancel out the hillside on our side of the river. But then maybe the measurement of the mile has changed over the centuries.

Larry did you walk the creek in the summer or winter?
 
How old is John Wellings' farm? Have you ever spoke with him about the cave.
Also the old farm across from him that sits off of Elk Creek Rd. I don't know who owns that now.
 
  Can you tell I'm interseted? Or just hyped up by nothing but a legend Unhappy
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dvisuals Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2009 at 8:32pm
wildbill, I too was wondering about the 6 miles.  It is only about 4 miles to my house from downtown Midd.  Maybe they just "walked" to figure out the mileage back then.Ermm
I heard about this cave a long time ago. Cool story.
I hope people take the time to read it.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Feb 2009 at 9:04pm
Six miles could be across the river, then down the creek in either direction, or just a number of miles that was thrown out there.  What does "not more than six miles" mean exactly?  Maybe it's way up where Elk Creek begins.  Maybe it was another creek or not along a creek at all.  A lot of "maybes" and "ifs" in this story. 
 
I've been in the creek in all seasons.  Even waded in it up to my waist one December to free a raccoon from a leghold trap inside Sebald Park.  A lot of things to see along its banks.
 
I don't know John Wellings, can you tell me more about him or his farm?
 
  
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 5:14am

John Welling owns the farm that is on the left side of 122 heading west  just past the Elk creek bridge before you get to Elk Creek Rd. He always has hay for sale and used to sell turkeys at Thanksgiving time. I know that farm has been there a long time and the property butts up against the creek. I just wondered about the part of the story that talked of the farmhouse and the way his land lays. I also wondered what "not more than six miles" meant. It could mean two miles??? Like you said lots of ifs. But its fun to chase those ifs.

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Post Options Post Options   Quote krazee 8 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 7:09am
 I have also heard of this, after 42 years in this township I have only two area's I belive this to be. One is a mile or two after sebald close to the Blevins farm. The other somewhere in the Miami Vally 4 wheelers club.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote redandblackcrowe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 8:08am
Wow. That is very interesting indeed! What a good read. Please share if anyone truly finds this cave.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 12:03pm
Originally posted by krazee 8

 I have also heard of this, after 42 years in this township I have only two area's I belive this to be. One is a mile or two after sebald close to the Blevins farm. The other
 somewhere in the Miami Vally 4 wheelers club.
 
Deb, Where is the Blevins farm?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dvisuals Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 12:23pm
I have no idea.  Jim actually grew up out here.  He might know.  

I live around the corner from the 4-wheeler's club.  It butts up against Whiteman's farm.
Kids used to climb the cliffs in that area from Brown's Run Creek.  Not sure if they still do. Mine don't, too busy with other things.  

Jim's wondering if the cave could have "caved in".
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 6:12pm
I meant the other Deb silly. Krazee8's real name is Debbie. But hey I take information however  and from whoever I can get it. I used to climb that hill. We called it Mt. Everest. LOL. This whole cave mystery just has me wondering...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 6:13pm
I would think after all of these years and all of the people who have been up and down the creek and the woods, that if the cave is still there or if there was one, that it would have been discovered by now.  Caved in, blown up, filled up, or eroded away, all seem like good possibilities.  However, it could still be waiting to be found again.  Good to keep this story going for future generations in case it is discovered again one day.   
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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Feb 2009 at 6:16pm
Heck I'm ready to get out and start looking now... well when it gets a little warmer.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote krazee 8 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2009 at 9:24am

It is down stream from sebald, behind where the Callahans had the pig roast. I remember Rodger built a diving board about 15 feet high and dug out elk creek so we could dive. Looking right or left of that spot, it looks like a mountain. I never thought it to be near the Wellings farm, been up and down the creek catching bait and fish to see anything of that magnitude. We could never explore that side of the creek downstream from sebald, it was a drop off of rocks. Elk Creek Road right after the s curve before the 90 degree turn by the Striebecks. Anybody ever checked that side of the creek?

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Post Options Post Options   Quote wildbill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2009 at 12:09pm

Thannkis Deb. I'll have to get my wadin shoes on and check it out. Tell the family "Spot" says HEY!!

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Post Options Post Options   Quote krazee 8 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Feb 2009 at 1:43pm
 Welcome Spot, I will tell everyone hey for you!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote THE LAST MOHICAN Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Oct 2010 at 12:49pm
Dear Members,
Just joined. And the history part of this fourm is so Cool. I hope to contribute alot.
 
I think this cave may be on our farm, we have a small ravine and over the hill a large Gorge.
In 1940  My uncle was having a new well drilled in the small ravine (waterwell) when they hit
natural gas, they started drilling a second location near by and hit natural gas again. The man Drilling set it on fire and it burned for 15-20 min. before going out, my Uncle told me.
 
I do not Think the cave would be at this location, But further back in the bigger Gorge. Back There
Is a Knob on the side of the Hill That I always thought was a small land slide from Thousand years ago. But Maybe it is 2- 3 wagon loads of Dirt dumped there. ( who knows) I would never had thought there could be a cave in our area knowing what I do about geology and Ordovicien limestone. But after reading this story and the fact that my Uncle did hit natural gas on the farm
maybe it might be true!
 
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Nov 2014 at 4:24pm

The Deadly Cave

By J. Larry Helton, Jr. – 2014

     The first recorded mention of a cave in Madison Township was published in 1892, in three installments, in the Middletown Signal/Journal, titled: “Underground: The Way That Slaves Were Freed From Their Masters Before The War”.  The account was witnessed and told by a man only identified as John, the owner of the land that this cave was located upon, and the only person alive who knew of the cave’s location.  His grandfather, a pioneer, had discovered the cave in 1790 and sealed it off due to a mysterious, poisonous gas that filled the inner-chamber.  The cave “was not over six miles from the downtown corner of Main and Central Ave. (Third St.)” and was adjacent to the farm’s homestead.  In 1845 John and a group of naturalists and geologists from Washington, D.C. opened and explored the cave.  Of the four men who entered the cave, all died from the gases.  Then in 1849 there is a story of twenty-one slaves who died within the cave, as recanted in the works of long-time Middletown historian, George Crout.

     George Crout wrote about the cave in 1999 in Madison Township Bicentennial Sketches (1799-1999) in “Madison Township Communities, Elk Creek”.  Before the Civil War, Madison Township residents were very divided on the subject of state’s rights, including slavery.  Slavery was never permitted in Ohio. There were abolitionists in the township that assisted in aiding escaped slaves towards freedom along the “Underground Railroad”, which is neither underground, nor a railroad, but an escape route.  It is believed that the following incident occurred somewhere in the Elk Creek area, en-route to West Elkton, a major “station”.  Though a secret a few still knew of the cave’s whereabouts, including an abolitionist physician of Hamilton.  One night in 1849 this abolitionist physician knocked on the back door of John’s family’s farmhouse, knowing ahead of time that this family of Quaker background supported the cause.  John’s parents met with the physician and learned that he had brought two wagon loads of slaves up the highway, headed to West Elkton, but discovered that they were being followed by bounty hunters.  Furthermore, they learned that the physician had hidden the slaves in the secret cave.  Upon hearing this, John’s father told the physician that he feared none of the twenty-one slaves would emerge alive due to the poisonous gas within.  After a bit of a rest and being disturbed by what he had been told, the physician and one of the sons, returned to the cave’s entrance, nervous and apprehensive.  The physician prayed, took a few steps into the cave, and began to call out.  With no response, he tied a handkerchief around his face to protect himself from the gases.  He had the son wait outside.  When he returned from the cave, his hands pressing the sides of his head, in a stupor, and revived from fresh air, he cried out, “We are in the midst of death! They are all dead…I saw them, counted them…twenty-one…all dead.”  The physician then told the son, never to enter the cave, nor allow others to enter it, and to replace the ground so as to conceal it from the sight of man.  He further told him to tell his father that his predictions were right and that, “I alone am to blame and no one can share any of it.  It was God’s will that they should die rather than be recaptured and taken back into slavery.  At least they are buried in free land, and their graves on free soil.”  The cave was then sealed from the “sight of man”.

     Kevin Williams used George Crout’s account and information from two geology professors to publish a story about the cave in The Edgewood.  Crout is quoted as saying, “The story was a legend – I didn’t really know whether it was true or not.  The source was shaky.”  He placed the cave as being in the vicinity of Sebald Park and was filled with methane gas.  Paul Pushkarr, professor of geology sciences at Wright State University states, “It would be fairly unusual to have a cave of any sized in this area.  The glaciers are pretty much death to caves.  Some large cave systems did survive – Ohio Caverns near Bellefontaine is an example.”  Dwight Baldwin, professor of geology at Miami University, adds, “There are caves that have high methane gas levels, if there is a lot of water or decaying plant matter inside. If a cave contained methane, it would have to be a tight compartment within the cave.  Caves have to breathe.  If the cave was open it would be unusual to have that high of methane.”  The 1892 article stated, “The poisonous gas was limited to an inner-chamber of the cave.

     Middletown Historian, Roger Miller, wrote about the cave in 2004 in “Middletown Past”, Middletown Journal, recanting the same as above. Roger and a group of men searched for this cave in July of 2004 without any success.

     Some question the location, “not over six miles from downtown”.  “Not over” could be less; could be across the river, then turning north or south for the remaining miles, not necessarily in a straight line.  Could even be a tributary to Elk Creek or even another stream.  On the Welling’s farm; on the Blevin’s farm; near the Striebecks; behind the Meeker’s; where the Callahans had the pig roast; or somewhere on the Miami Valley 4-Wheeler’s property have all been mentioned.  There is one undisclosed location told to me that has an interesting story to tell.  “I think this cave may be on our farm.  We have a small ravine and over the hill a large gorge.  In 1940, my uncle was having a new well drilled in the small ravine when they hit natural gas.  They started drilling a second location nearby and hit natural gas again.  The man drilling set it on fire and it burned for 15-20 minutes before going out… I do not think the cave would be at this location, but further back in the bigger gorge.  Back there is a knob on the side of the hill that I always thought was a landslide…but maybe it is two to three wagon loads of dirt dumped there…”

     Over the years, I’ve talked to George, Roger, and others about the cave, its likelihood and its whereabouts.  I have walked and explored most, if not all of Elk Creek and some of its tributaries, in all seasons.  Was it cave or could it have been more like a rock shelter of the Appalachians?  If a cave, could it have been not only sealed off, but dynamited to keep from ever being entered again?  Could the cave have actually been an opening in the Earth’s surface from the New Madrid earthquake of 1812 that affected the entire Ohio Valley?  A final scenario – on some topographical maps of the township, it shows a couple of abandoned mines on top of the West Middletown hills, now on private property.  Could one of these be “the cave”?  That might explain the methane gas probability?  If they were mines, what was being mined and when?  Another mystery or another rural legend?        

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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2014 at 1:03am
From Sue Duff of Trenton - "...Slaves from Trenton to a tunnel out near the Signal Mound where they were picked and taken to the next stop. He took us out to the mound but we were never able to find anything out there that looked like an opening. This would have been in late 50's."


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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2014 at 1:06am
From Sue Duff of Trenton - "There was a yellow house in front of the pioneer cemetery when I was a small girl and Dad told us that the Pony Express station would receive the slaves and they would pass through a tunnel under the road there to the yellow house where they spend the night and from there to a tunnel out near the Signal Mound where they were picked and taken to the next stop. He took us out to the mound but we were never able to find anything out there that looked like an opening. This would have been in late 50's."
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Dec 2014 at 12:27pm
Middletown Signal/Journal, June 30, July 7, & July 14, 1892

     As near as I can remember, it was in 1826, when my father pointed out to me the entrance leading to the mouth of a cave, not more than six miles from Middletown.  This entrance was pointed out to my father, in 1782, and made to promise that he would not divulge the secret to anyone, except to one of his own sons.  As I have not a son nor a daughter living, I feel at liberty to tell of it, with-holding only the location of the entrance to the cave.  I am quite sure that there is not a person living in your city not in the country around that know that such a cave exists near Middletown.  I have often thought and wondered why the entrance to the cave was so carefully concealed, and I revealed only under promise of secrecy.[/
]
     The location was first pointed out to my grandfather, then by him to my father, and then by my father to me.  The more I thought of this peculiar tradition of imparting this secret from one generation to the another, the more anxious I became to know why it was done, and the more I thought about it the greater the mystery appeared to me.  Being young of good health and not wanting in endurance I determined to make an attempt at least to enter the cave to satisfy my curiousity.  I made the attempt in the fall of 1842.  The peculiar and careful construction of the entrance leading to the mouth of the cave, shut off all light and soon I found myseld in absolute darkness.  I ventured into the opening unmindful of the danger, and the first thing I know I fell headlong into a lake of ice cold water.  I retreated as well as I could, got out and .... to the entrance and then out entirel satisfied and not at all disappointed to attempt it again.  I kept the venture of mind a profound secret to this day without being re ...
     In 1845, my father had business of importance to attend to in Cincinnati. At his request I accompanied him. On the way, I was anxious to know why, and how it was that my father had business of importance to attend to in Cincinnati. I asked father to explain to me the nature of his business, his answer was a surprise to me - "Silence and be patient my son." As soon as we arrived at Cincinnati we were met by two gentlemen. The action of my father and the older of the two men, plainly showed me that they were soon engaged in a private conservation. After they had talked together awhile, father called me and introduced me to the men, and instead of calling them by name, as two Naturalists and Geologists, who by orders of the Department at Washington City D.C. had come to examine the cave etc. By agreement we extended our visit another day. The next morning, the two men returned and had with them two more men. After I had related to them the strange construction of the entrance leading to the mouth of the opening of the cave, and my escape and my cold bath, etc. in my attempt to explore the cave, and the four men seemed highly pleased and eager to explore that cave. We agreed to meet them at Hamilton in ten days, prepared to transport them and their fixtures to the cave.
     At the expiration of the ten day we met again. They were promptly prepared, and eager to undertake the hazardous exploit as we were to have them do so. Having arrived at the cave, we went to work tearing down the stone walls and banks of earth concealing the mouth of the cave. This done we went to work placing the ropes, ladders, shovels, picks, axes, lamps, canoe, provisions, etc., inside of the mouth of the cave. All being ready, the four men bade us goodbye, and entered the cave.
     Before they entered, they exacted a promise from us that we would come to the cave every morning at sunrise, for several days, so that, if they need anything in addition to what they had, we could furnish it, and thus avoid delay in their work. We bid them goodbye again, and then departed for our home. We had gone away but a short distance from the cave, when father turned, looked back, his face pale and began to weep and called to the men - "Come back, come back, oh men I entreat you, come back." We returned to the cave and called them, again and again. It was useless to call any more. They were out of the reach of our united calls. Father seemed heart broken. I felt alarmed, fearing he would attempt to harm himself, or that his reason might forsake him.
     He laid his head on my shoulder and wept like a child, and in a tone of voice I never heard before, said, "John, the four men are already dead we will not see them again." I tried to pacify him, and finally he quieted down, but was very despondent. We were now within two miles of ... and in my mind ... way of ..... father. I said, "Father, ..... that I really have come to regret and I am sorry, very sorry, I said what I did to the four duped and unfortunate men, and that I am now convinced that my suspicions about the cave are correct, and assure you by saying that I do not think you are to blame in the least for anything that may have occurred in the utilization of the cave. A smile brightened up the haggard and troubled face of my father. And now, father, be cheerful and happy when we enter the house to greet mother, and remember, do not mention anything about the cave to her. [To be Continued.]

     UNDERGROUND - The Way that Slaves Were Freed From Their Masters, Before the War'

     The next morning we made our first visit and got there as requested, at sunrise. We stood in front of the mouth of the cave awaiting the appearance of one or more of the men, but not one of the men came. We remained until midday, but not one of the men had yet appeared. I determined to venture into the cave a short distance and call. I had taken but a single step, when father cried out, "John, stop! the air we breathe, even here, is impregnated with poisonous gas! Out. Out of this death trap!" We made haste to reach the mouth of the cave, and, I firmly believe we emerged just in time to escape death. We now left and started for home, and on our way home father made me promise that I would not enter the cave again. I promised him that I would not, and assured him that nothing could induce me to enter that death trap again.
     Father was so overcome and prostrated, that he was compelled to remain at home, and therefore I had to make the balance of the promised visits alone. I visited the cave alone six consecutive mornings, and in all these visits not a man of the four had appeared - not even a sound had I heard, all was silence - a silent sepulcher and nothing did I see in all my visits except the darkness within. Father and I now arranged to replace the stone and earth we helped to take away, and thus hide from view the mouth of the cave, and unless it location is pointed out, would elude discovery by any person, who might pass that way. You will remember this occurred in 1847, forty five years ago. I was twenty years old then, making my age now, 67 years.
     You will see then, that I was just a mere boy, about eight years old, when the location of the cave was first pointed out to me. It may seem strange to you, that I had no serious suspicions about the use that was made of the cave. I had, however, but I had inherited both from my mother and father a talent (pherlogically called) secretiveness, and in this instance my secretiveness was a comfort and blessing to all concerned and interested in the cave.
     I am now the only one living of all that knew its location, and it was kept a secret, not only because of silence, but also, because we spared no labor to hide it from view to anyone that might pass by it. And now, as regards the use made of the cave, will explain to you the importance of its having been kept a secret by those interested. The first evidence I had of the use made of the cave, happened in 1849, and the evidence I got was because of my suspicion.
     One evening father, mother and I were sitting in the parlor, and as was her custom, mother was reading to us from the idol heart, "The Testament." A knock at the back door caused mother to cease reading, and before father answered the "signal of the four slow and distinct raps," father and mother both came to me and said, "John promise us that you will remain where you are until we call you." It was a dark and stormy night, and without hesitation I promised to remain as they desired me to do. My suspicions were aroused and for one time in my life, the darkness and storm of night was an advantage, and blessing to me, and a blessing so frequently prayed for by young men, the lights were extinguished, and was done by his honor the lord of the house! You can res assured I was on the "qui viv!" and quick as a flash flew upstairs and out of the veranda, listening and heard every word between my father, mother, and the five men, one of the five I recognized by his voice, Dr. ________ of Hamilton. I returned to my chair where father and mother had left me, as quickly and quietly as I had left.
     The conversation I overheard was, that they were compelled by force of circumstances to change their route somewhat, that they could not reach West Elkton in safety. The five men were ushered into a room adjoining the one I was occupying. Over the door, between the two rooms was a transome which afforded me innocent amusement, by looking through I could see and hear. I was rewarded for being a quiet, good and unsuspecting young man. They, however, were very cautious and careful to whisper only so that the good and unsuspecting men in the adjoining room could not hear their conservation.
     Nevertheless, instead of sitting on my chair, and with my eyes wide open, and ears on the alert ... both saw and heard! Four of the five men were runaway slaves! The white man, was Dr. _______ of Hamilton, a man of high standing in the art of secreting slaves. Mother ... came in and announced supper was ready. I never saw men ..... -mons so quickly, the men were almost crazy for something to eat. Mother first asked a "Blessing", not on the men, but on the spread before them. Whilst the men were doing full justice to the spread before them a knock at the back door was answered by father, and in come two men, both from near West Elkton prepared to transport the four men to a certain point which I must not name at present. It was a fortunate thing to us that Dr. _______ remained with us for the night. Shortly after midnight, mother called me saying, "Thy father is very sick," and the doctor says "father cannot live, that heart disease is his trouble."
     I was not surprised to hear the sad news, for I had apprehended the action of father's heart the morning we made our first visit to the cave, after the four men had entered it. The next morning father seemingly was better, requested that I should remain with him, as he had matters of importance to tell me. I remained, and being alone he called me to him. He extended his right hand and I grasped it firmly with my hands, and began to whisper, his voice weak and fluttering: "John, before I can die I must unburden my mind, but promise me first, that when you bury my body, you will bury the secret with my body, I assured him that I would do so.
     Father closed his eyes, I began to fear the end had come. I called him, he opened his eyes, and said - "John, before the Civil War, there came to our house a man I know to be prominent in the church and in the politics, a warm friend to the poor and the oppressed, and an honored and highly respected citizen of Hamilton, he came and told me that he had taken the liberty, as well as the responsibility, to place twenty-one escaped slaves just east of my farm, into a cave known to him and others for years past. I told him what I know about the cave, that it was a death-trap, and that I was sure that not one of the twenty-one would emerge from it alive.
     It was already late in the night when he came. Your mother prepared a warm supper for him, and when he had finished eating, it was past midnight. He seemed to be very much troubled over what I had told him about the cave. He importuned me to go back with him to the cave. I agreed to accompany him but mother said nay - "thee can go early in the morning." [To be Continued.]       

DIED IN THE CAVE - Four Men Entered, But Were Not Seen Again'

     Early the next morning, mother called us and said, "breakfast awaits thee, keep silent as possible, eat and go in silence, exercise caution lest hindrance may come to thee." This caution exercised us both, and speedily made our way to the dining room. Mother's prayer at the table convinced us the more that she had cause to caution us. Doctor became nervous, mother noticed it and said, "Doctor my words of caution were of premonition and not that I have heard nor saw anything, but in all thy movements and words this morning and this day, be sure you are not seen or overheard." We made haste and on our way to the cave were extremely careful not to attract attention, and that our movements were not being watched.
     We arrived at the cave in safety before daylight; both of us, excited, nervous and apprehensive. We stood at the entrance for a long time not a word was spoken by either of us, the air around us was full of gloom, apprehension, and terror! The doctor fell upon his knees and prayed, in a few moments he arose, and the first words spoken since our arrival was, God is with us. We now approached the mouth of the cave and looked into darkness! The doctor was pale and frightened and said, John, stand at the outer entrance until I go in and call. The doctor ventured in and called - called again - and called the third time, but no answer! All was silence - silent as death. The doctor called me. I approached him and he said, John, you remain here until I return - I will venture in as far as to this second arch, and call. The doctor now arranged a handkerchief around his face, so as to prevent the inhalation of poisonous gases pervading the inner chamber of the cave. He left me and started to death! I called to him, stop doctor, stop don't venture in.
     The doctor paid no attention to my entreaties, but went on and was soon lost in my sight. I waited seemingly. a long time; moments to me were hours. I now began to feel stupefied and felt that I must get out for fresh air, but I had promised to remain where I had promised to remain where I was until the doctor returned and therefore I called him - no answer - I called again - he answered. I now could see him. Slowly he came - his hands pressing the sides of his head. He passed me, whispering to me as he passed, come John, out of this, we are in the midst of death!
     We were soon out of the cave. The doctor fell prostrate, and as I thought, dead! But no, the fresh pure air was reviving him. The doctor now arose to his feet, looked up and said "thank you God, we are safe, but John the four are dead, yes, dead! I saw them, counted them, but just beyond them, I saw the bones of many men, how many I could not count. John I will never, never enter that cave again, and now John, I want you to promise that you will never enter it again, nor allow any others to enter it! and that you will replace the ground and stone as before, to conceal it from the sight of man. I would remain and help, but I must go. And when you get home, tell your father that his predictions that we would and the men dead, are true. Tell him that I alone am responsible for the fate of the men, and that I do not want any one to assume to themselves any share of my responsibility. That it was God's will they should die, rather than be recaptured and taken back into worse than slavery. Now John, farewell, I must go, I feel forewarned, say farewell to all at home.          
     
      
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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