From Giles Conrad Park, looking across the Ohio River, you can see how close Boone County is to the banks of Ohio, which was a free state. On Boone County’s side of the river, the North Bend area is to the West and the Taylorsport and Parlor Grove area is to the East. In the mid-1800’s this area had a lot of large farms, there were thriving communities here. The river was necessary for commercial transportation of goods but with a free state in easy sight, it also led to a lot of slave conducting in this area. There were Boone County enslaved who fled from this area and also Freedom Seekers from the South that came through Boone Co. looking to reach a free state.
Matt Bates and family: Matt Bates disappeared from records in the early 1850s. He had been informally accused of assisting slaves to freedom in Boone County in 1852, and his son, Jerry was also under suspicion of Underground Railroad activity. Other African American Bates family members moved across the river to nearby Lawrenceburg, IN and Hamilton County, and were strategically located along known escape routes. No other information has been discovered on the fate of Matt Bates.
Almeda Phillips: Almeda and her family migrated to Kansas sometime in the early 1870s. She lived with her daughter “Linnie” Buckner and family and passed away in 1906. Her birth year varies by a few years in the census records, but she was approximately 100 years old at her death. She is buried in Topeka, KS.
John VanZandt: VanZandt, an active conductor on the UGRR, and former Kentucky slaveholder himself was the defendant in the 1847 Jones v. VanZandt case before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was initially sued for monetary damages to Wharton Jones, Boone County, who was the slaveholder of 9 slaves that VanZandt was assisting to freedom when he was caught in Ohio in 1842. The court decided against VanZandt, who was hence financially ruined. The decision upheld the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. He had to send his 11 children to relatives scattered around the country; he died later the same year of the decision.