Sara & Jonathan sit on a nearby front porch in the 1890s

Haines House History

The Haines House served as an Underground Railroad station in Alliance, Ohio beginning around 1853. It's owners, Jonathan Ridgeway Haines and Sarah Grant Haines were Quaker farmers who were active Abolitionists in an area that Underground Railroad historian Wilbur Seibert characterized as "a hotbed of abolition" in his book, Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads. 1

Relative Erma Grant Pluchel recounted the family tradition that, "Many a fugitive slave was assisted to escape by Ridgeway Haines, his home being a station between Salem, Ohio, Marlboro and Limaville, O. . . . Many a night he stood guard gun in hand, taking care of the poor slaves he was harboring in the little attic room over his kitchen. His son, John C. or 'Tump' as he was known, a boy of twelve also stood guard & helped to drive the slaves to the next station under cover of darkness." 2 Ridgeway Haines, "early in 1842, espoused the anti-slavery cause, which was a most unpopular cause at that time," according to The History of Stark County in 1881. 3 References to the use of the Haines House as an Underground Railroad station appeared in the obituaries of both Ridgeway and Sarah. 4

The Haines House sat as a lone farmhouse on 126 acres of land less than 100 yards from what was one of the easternmost Underground Railroad trails in Ohio, now known as State Route 183. According to Siebert's detailed map, Alliance sat as a focal point of Underground Railroad trails that led from three points, Mechanicstown and Hanoverton/New Garden from the south and Salem from the east. Fugitive slaves moved on from Alliance on two routes, one to Limaville and then Randolph, and the other through Marlboro to Randolph. The trail continued to Hudson and on north to Lake Erie. 5

Two well-documented Abolitionist meetings were held in a grove on the Haines farm. On August 13, 1859, a young people's meeting was held at the Haines Grove that was chaired by prominent African Americanbusinessman William J. Whipper. John Mercer Langston and his brother Charles Henry Langston also spoke at this meeting. Charles had only a few weeks before been released from prison after the resolution of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescuers trial. 6 On August 1, 1860, a 'Negroes Convention' held in the Haines Grove featured African American Jermain Wesley Loguen whose book, The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman. A Narrative of Real Life, had been published in Syracuse the year before. 7

Documentation of the Grant and Haines family's Abolitionist involvement is extensive. The Western Anti-Slavery Society was headquartered in nearby Salem, where Ridgeway Haines grew up. A family story suggests that as a young man in Salem he first helped a runaway slave and his two daughters in their flight to freedom. 8 Society records and the Society's newspaper, The Anti-Slavery Bugle, show that beginning in 1849 John Grant, Sarah Haines and Ridgeway Haines were regular contributors to the Society. 9 Ridgeway was elected a Vice President of the Society in 1860. 10 During the 1850s, the Society's Anniversary Meeting alternated between Salem and Alliance. In the years when the three-day event was held in the Alliance area, Ridgeway Haines served as a member of the planning committee. 11 During the 1857 Anniversary Meeting, one of Salem's most active UGRR conductors, Daniel Howell Hise, records that he visited with Abby & Stephen Foster, Parker Pillsbury, Andrew T. Foss who were staying at the Haines' home. 12 Hise's journal is one of the most enduring records of life in mid-19th century Ohio. His home is on the National Register and is one of eleven Ohio Underground Railroad sites featured on the National Park Service's "Aboard the Underground Railroad National Register Itinerary" website. 13

The Haines and Hise families had a friendship that spanned over three decades. Hise's daily journal records visits before and after the Civil War. Among the entries is one dated January 8, 1853 that reports that Daniel enjoyed a dish of oysters with I. N. Pierce at the Haines House. 14 Pierce is the only other station operator from Alliance, besides Ridgeway Haines, mentioned in Siebert's Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads. 15

One final tantalizing historic connection is that of the Grant family to one of the earliest African American settlements in northeast Ohio, New Guinea, just a little over a mile to the northeast from the original Grant property. This settlement had its beginnings around 1810 and grew to have as many as 200 inhabitants in the 1850s. 16 In 1823, African Americans David Day and his brother, Soloman, purchased a quarter section of land in the heart of this area. David Day sold an acre of this property to the Christs Disciples Church. This plot became the church (and community's) meeting house and graveyard. In the late 1930s the Day brothers moved to Logan County, Ohio and sold a part of their remaining property to Stacey Grant, John Grant's brother. 17

Ridgeway Haines purchased the house that his father-in-law built in 1852 along with 126 acres of the original 160-acre land grant. Mr. and Mrs. Haines raised six children here, 3 boys and 3 girls. Their oldest son, John, served three years in the Union army in the 19th infantry and played cornet in the regimental band. The Haines were a musical family and the three Haines boys formed the first Alliance City Band. As Mr. and Mrs. Haines became too old to farm, they were fortunate to have settled next to a growing city. They supported themselves in their retirement years by selling off sections of their farm. Today the Haines House sits on one tenth of an acre and is the oldest brick home in the city. 18

Mr. Haines died in 1899 and Mrs. Haines in 1903. They are buried in Alliance City Cemetery. At that time, the house was sold, and turned into two apartments. The electricity was put in around 1921 and the plumbing came sometime later. Two bathrooms were created using space from two bedrooms and the back porch was converted to a kitchen for the east side apartment. The house was split right down the middle. The Market address used the front door and the front stair and the Haines address used the west parlor door and the back stair. The shutters and the porch were removed during those years. Patricia Shipp Keller, of Alliance, tells the story of a fire in the house in 1941. It seems that her family rented the east side and she set a wet mop by a hot stove after wiping up some spilled milk when she was three years old. The burning mop was doused and set on the back porch where it rekindled and burned the frame section. Charred timbers in the attic show evidence of the fire. 19

The home was rescued in 1966 by Eric Johannesen, an art instructor at Mount Union College. He lived here with his mother, began the restoration and was responsible for having the home placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Mr. Johannesen installed the gas hot water baseboard heating system and had the porch replaced using an old photo of the house as a guide. He accepted a position with the Western Reserve Historical Society and moved to Cleveland. He was named "Ohio's Outstanding Preservationist of 1969" for his work on the Haines House and other preservation efforts in Alliance. 20

The VanSwearingens purchased the home in 1974. They replaced the brick walks, the original hot water heater, and restored many of the rooms adding electrical wiring and plumbing. A grant was received in 1992 to help replace the roof. Unfortunately, the Haines House was sold in 1994 to owners who remained for less than six months, and left the house vacant and neglected for six years. The house was the subject of a foreclosure proceeding in 2000, and many of the antiques deeded with the house were not within its walls.

Faced with the ongoing deterioration of a valuable community asset, the Haines House Underground Railroad Project was established with the support of the Alliance YWCA, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Organizing Committee, the Alliance Historical Society and Alliance Area Study Circle Coalition. The Project sought to create a vital museum and community center that celebrates the history of Alliance and the Haines House's role during the Underground Railroad years, as well as the shared heritage and unique identities within our diverse community. In June of 2000, the group helped revitalize the Alliance Area Preservation Society in order to save the Haines House. This group spent over a year negotiating with the owners to reach a purchase agreement. This included visits to the Haines House, the owner's home in Ravenna, involvement in a court proceeding with the Alliance Historical Society on the viability of the current deed restrictions, and numerous consultations with legal counsel. In July 2001, a purchase agreement was reached for the Haines House and contents with a price for the package set at $42,000, and on August 10, 2001, the Preservation Society took possession of the House.


1 Wilbur H. Seibert, The Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads, 1951, Columbus, Ohio, pg. 238.

2 Erma Grant Pluchel. Letter to Alliance Carnegie Library from Mrs. George Grant Pluchel (J. R. Haines great grandniece), 1936, Rodman Public Library Collection, Alliance, Ohio.

3 William H. Perrin, History of Stark County, 1881, Baskin & Bartley, Cleveland, Ohio, pg. 727.

4 "In Peace He Sleeps – J. Ridgeway Haines, Pioneer and Early Reformer." The Alliance Daily Review, Alliance, Ohio, September 5, 1899, p. 2. "A Noble Woman – Mrs. Sarh G. Haines Passes to Her Reward." The Alliance Daily Review, Alliance, Ohio, March 18, 1903, p. 2

5 Seibert, Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads, 239-240.

6 "Young People's Convention," The Anti-Slavery Bugle, published by the Western Anti-Slavery Society, Salem, Ohio, August 20, 1859, p. 3.

7 "First of August in Alliance," Bugle, August 11, 1860, p. 3.

8 Pluchel, Letter to Alliance Carnegie Library.

9 Bugle, March 4, 1849; August 11, 1849; July 9, 1853; February 4, 1854; September 20, 1856; October 30, 1858; June 18, 1859; October 13, 1860.

10 "Proceedings of the Eighteenth Anniversary Meeting of the Western Anti-Slavery Society," Bugle, September 29, 1860, p. 1.

11 Bugle, July 7, 1855; August 8, 1857; July 23, 1859.

12 Daniel Howell Hise. Entry of September 5, 1857. Journals of Daniel Howell Hise, 1846-1878, (Underground Railroad stationmaster in Salem Ohio), Ohio Historical Society Collection

13 Shannon Bell, editor. "Daniel Howell Hise House," Aboard the Underground Railroad National Register Itinerary. National Parks Service website: http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/oh7.htm

14 Daniel Howell Hise. Entry of January 8, 1853. Journals of Daniel Howell Hise, 1846-1878, (Underground Railroad stationmaster in Salem Ohio), Ohio Historical Society Collection

15 Seibert, Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroads, 239-240.

16 Levi L. Lamborn. "History of Lexington Township – Chapter VII." The Alliance Standard Review, Alliance, Ohio, March 1, 1973, p. 3

17 Abstract of Title for South East quarter section of Section 24, Township 19, Range 6 in Lexington Township, Stark County, Ohio.

18 National Register of Historic Places nomination form. December 1973

19 Remembrance of Patricia Shipp Keller, November 2001.

20 "Haines House Goes on National Register," The Alliance Review, Alliance, Ohio, March 17, 1974, p. B-1


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