Welcome to stop number 8!
You are standing outside the Kennett Friends’ Meeting House at 125 West Sickles Street. This meeting house is relatively new, having been built in 1958 to replace the State Street Meeting House that had been at 216 East State Street. The State Street Meeting House was demolished around 1955 to make way for the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library. This library is just about to move further east, down State Street as a larger and more modern library is just about to be built.
The ”Pines” is a house on the edge of Kennett Square, just in front of the Fairfield Inn. Although recently renovated, no one has lived there for many years but in the beginning, it was home to several Quaker families who were very active stationmasters on the Underground Railroad. It is estimated that about 2,000 freedom seekers passed through The Pines on their way to freedom. The following story by Chris Densmore explains.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, the Kennett area was known as “that hotbed of abolitionism” because of the help many local residents gave to fugitive slaves. These Underground Railroad “station masters” sheltered fugitives in their homes, called “stations.” One of the most prominent of these stationmasters was Dr. Bartholomew Fussell, whose house still stands at the intersection of Baltimore Pike and McFarlan Road, just east of historic Kennett Square. Fussell’s house, “The Pines," is one of the most historic of the many Underground Railroad houses in the Kennett area.
While studying medicine in Maryland as a young man, Fussell conducted a Sunday School for slave children, some of whom later were pleasantly surprised when they found themselves at his home on their way north.
Besides the Fussells, two other families sheltered fugitive slaves in this old farmhouse before the Civil War: Chandler and Hannah Darlington and Sumner and Mary Anne Stebbins. All were active members of Longwood Progressive Meeting, just up the road, now the Brandywine Valley Visitor Information Center
History of the Underground Railroad in Chester and the Neighboring Counties of Pennsylvania, Smedley, R.C. 1883.
Continue to the corner of West Sickles Street and North Union Street, (rt 82). Do not cross the street. Our next story will be on the corner.