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A Story in Many Parts

John Grant was a trailblazer and Quaker who brought is family from New Jersey to the thick forests of Frontier Ohio. His beliefs, and those of his youngest daughter and son-in-law, would bind them to the cause of enslaved Freedom Seekers. As Abolitionists, the Grant-Haines Family joined America's first genuinely interracial coalition in the struggle for social justice.

Ridgeway and Sarah Grant Haines in front of their home, circa 1890

The Grant & Haines Family and Their Home

       The Haines House was built in stages between 1827 and 1842 by John and Nancy Grant, among the earliest families to settle in Stark County. The initial land grant encompassed much of what we know as the west side of Alliance today. The Grant's daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Ridgeway Haines, operated a station on the Underground Railroad in the House in the years before the Civil War. Their son, John Columbus Haines, fought in the Civil War. He and his brothers were active in the growing Alliance community throughout the second half of the 19th Century and founded the Alliance City Band in 1859.

       Today, their home is the Haines House Underground Railroad Museum where visitors can view the restored mid-Victorian parlor, the early 19th century kitchen, the hands-on child's room, the Grant bedroom, the attic where fugitive slaves were hidden, and the herb garden. Also on display are changing historical and preservation related exhibits, and a 'Timeline of Slavery and Abolitionism in the US." Many thematic programs have been offered including an Underground Railroad re-enactment, Christmas Lamplight Tours, Music of the Civil War, Hands-On History in which children engage in 19th century activities, and re-enactments of documented slave narratives. The Haines House has been recognized by the National Park Service's Network to Freedom program and the Ohio Underground Railroad Association.


Sarah Grant Haines about 1870

Sarah Grant Haines

Our Detailed 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. 

       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.”     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.   References to the use of the Haines House as an Underground Railroad station appeared in the obituaries of both Ridgeway and Sarah. 

       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 to Lake Erie. 

       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 American businessman 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.   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. 

       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.   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.    Ridgeway was elected a Vice President of the Society in 1860.    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.   During the 1857 Anniversary Meeting, one of Salem’s most active UGRR conductors, Daniel Howell Hise, records that he visited with Abby & Stephen Symonds Foster, Parker Pillsbury, Andrew T. Foss who were staying at the Haines’ home.   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.

       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.   Pierce is the only other station operator from Alliance, besides Ridgeway Haines, mentioned in Siebert’s Mysteries of Ohio’s Underground Railroads. 

       One 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.   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 1830s the Day brothers moved to Logan County, Ohio and sold a part of their remaining property to Stacey Grant, John Grant’s brother.     

       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. 

       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. 

       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.


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:

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.

16Levi 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


J. Ridgeway Haines about 1870

J. Ridgeway Haines


First floor floorplan



Evan and Suzanne Morris Community Room (East Parlor): This is one of only two rooms in the House built with a fireplace. Most of the rooms were heated with wood stoves, a more common household amenity after the opening of the Ohio & Erie Canal, which increased Western access to manufactured goods from the East. This room is now used for meetings and events.

Haines Parlor: This room has been restored as a formal parlor of the 1870s. All of the woodwork has been restored using a technique known as turkey feather graining,  common in the 1800s. Examples of the original technique can be found on doors in the Dining Room. Most of the antiques in this room, and throughout the House, were acquired by Eric Johannesen, a Mount Union College professor who first restored the House in the 1960s. He deeded the antiques with the House so they would remain here for all time.

Dining Room: There are many doors in this room and throughout the house. They were opened for air circulation in the summer, and closed to keep the heat in during the winter.

Gallery: This room was perhaps originally a work room or sewing room. It now serves as an area for exhibits

Original House/Old Kitchen: This was the original one-room house with a loft for sleeping above and a porch extending out towards the east (where the modern kitchen is now). John Grant moved into this house from a log cabin which sat at the bottom of the hill where the Salvation Army building now stands. The cherry corner cupboard is the only piece of furniture that was owned by the Haines family. The kitchen is restored to resemble one of 1850.


New Kitchen:  This room was originally the back porch which was enclosed around 1910 when the House was divided into two apartments. A handicapped accessible restroom was constructed in part of this space in 2006.

Second floor floorplan



Grant Bedroom:  This room is named for John Grant who built the house between 1828 and 1842. It reflects a typical bedroom of the mid-19th century. The wallpaper currently in this room was selected in the 1960s to closely resemble the sample fragments you see on the mantle.

Children's Bedroom: The furniture in this room has been assembled to suggest a child’s bedroom. The bathroom was added after the turn of the 20th century. The rope bed with straw ticking is covered by a quilt created in the 19th century style by the Carnation Sew Happy Quilters.

Attic: Family stories relate that this was the hiding place for fugitive slaves on their way to freedom on the Underground Railroad. It has been replastered due to a fire in 1941. Mrs. Haines would have also used this space for storage.

Office:  This was a bedroom which had been divided into a small nursery and bathroom. It has been converted into an office for the Preservation Society.

Founders Preservation Room: This former bedroom is used for education programs and exhibits about local historic preservation efforts of the Alliance Area Preservation Society. There is also a small research library for historic preservation, local and Underground Railroad history.

Restoration / Timeline

Fall 2022-2024           
Restoration of the front portico; spot repointing of exterior brick and repair of selected chimneys, eaves and windows; and repair of southwest corner of the original house/old kitchen.

Fall 2018-Spring 2019           
The east and west yards and north bank were enhanced with new landscaping, additional plantings and flowers. A stone bench was added.

Fall 2017           
Due to natural gas line work in the neighborhood, all sidewalks were replaced. A barnstone retaining wall was added on either side of the front entry.

Summer-Fall 2013           
Roof is replaced and shutters are re-installed on the windows to match the look of the House as it was in the 19th Century.

Fall 2009-Summer 2010 
Children's bedroom created with removal of old bathroom and old ceiling.

Summer 2008    
Herb garden installed. Exterior lamps and fences installed.

Summer 2007    
New kitchen installed. Underground Railroad timeline displayed in Community Room. East yard graded and holly bushes added.

November 2006
Parking area, handicapped-accessible ramp and handicapped-accessible restroom completed.

May 2006           
Landscaping begins with the help of area garden clubs.

October 2005    
Repointing of masonry is completed.

July 2005            
Alliance Area Preservation secures ownership of 45 x 70 foot lot behind the Haines House for handicapped accessible ramp, parking and landscaping.

October 2004    
Receive recognition as an Underground Railroad site from the National Park Service's Network to Freedom program

June 2004           
Receive flag of designation from the Ohio Underground Railroad Association recognizing the Haines House's role in Ohio Underground Railroad history.

October 2003    
Notified of $56,000 matching grant from National Park Service's Save America's Treasures Program

Summer 2003    
A team of eleven AmeriCorps workers help to restore Haines House. Major renovation work continues as volunteers work at least fours days each month on restoration and painting.

March 2003       
Pilot program brings third graders from three Alliance City Elementary Schools to Haines House

December 2002
First-ever Haines House Holiday Open House

August 2002       
Haines House Open for Carnation Festival - Over 500 people visit our restoration work-in-progress!

September 2001              
Community Open House - Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Haines House notified of grant award from Greater Alliance Foundation - $10,000 for purchase of House and $10,000 over the next two years for renovation. Over the next four years the AAPS will raise over $200,000 for restoration, including funds from the Federal Save America’s Treasures program.

August 2001       
Haines House purchased by the Alliance Area Preservation Society. Our first meeting is held within the walls of the Haines House.

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