1848: the antebellum era

Flight to Freedom

ESTIMATED TIME: 1 HOUR

The year is 1848. You are Lucy King, a 14-year-old girl enslaved on a Kentucky plantation. Will you find a path to freedom?

Meet the Characters

To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.3.0 or greater is installed.

Meet the Characters

Roll over a character to learn more.

Esther

Esther is the cook and a house slave on Master King’s plantation. Because she spends her days in the “Big House,” Esther overhears much of Master King’s business and passes information along to other slaves. Esther also travels to Lexington to shop for the household and gathers information from other enslaved workers and free blacks at the Lexington market.

Reverend John Rankin

John Rankin (1793-1886) was a Presbyterian minister who started out preaching in Tennessee, but was forced to leave when he made his anti-slavery views public. Rankin became an outspoken abolitionist in Ripley, Ohio, where he was extremely active in the Underground Railroad. His “Letters on Slavery” greatly influenced William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and other abolitionists around the country. Rankin lived in a house high on a hill in Ripley, overlooking the village and the Ohio River. During the forty years preceding the Civil War, it is estimated over 2,000 slaves passed through Ripley, many of whom were assisted by the Reverend Rankin and his family. Rankin’s house is currently a National Historic Landmark.

Nell

Nell is Lucy and Jonah’s mother. Nell is a field hand on Master King’s plantation. She works planting, hoeing, weeding, harvesting, and bundling hemp. Nell has a pass which allows her to visit her husband on a neighboring plantation occasionally.

Henry

Henry is a nineteen-year-old field hand on Master King’s plantation. Henry is a good friend of Lucy’s family. In addition to his duties in the fields, Henry is also responsible for tending the smokehouse – cutting wood and maintaining the fire whenever hogs have been butchered and are ready to smoke. Henry’s family was sold away from the King plantation the previous year. Henry is strong-willed and has a short temper. He has run off for days at a time over the past year.

Mrs. Porter

Mrs. Porter manages the Ripley Hotel with her husband. The hotel is located across from the ferry dock on the Ohio River. Originally from Kentucky, Mrs. Porter believes slavery is beneficial to both slaves and slave owners. Many of the hotel’s customers come from Kentucky.

Jonah

Jonah is an eight-year-old enslaved laborer on Master King’s plantation. He is Lucy’s younger brother.

Millie Hatcher

Millicent Hatcher is a twenty-one-year-old teacher who studied at the Hartford Female Seminary under Harriet Beecher Stowe. An outspoken abolitionist, she moved west to Ohio to teach in the Red Oak School under the supervision of Reverend Rankin.

Lucy

Lucy is a fourteen-year-old enslaved laborer on Master King’s hemp plantation, located 20 or so miles from Lexington, Kentucky. Lucy is the daughter of Nell. Lucy’s father was sold away to the nearby Preston plantation after a bad harvest. She only sees her father occasionally. Lucy is strong-willed and has gotten into trouble for speaking her mind. She grew up playing with the master’s daughter, Sarah, though their relationship has changed as they have grown older. Lucy works in the yard tending animals and the garden, washing clothes, toting water for field hands, and helping the cook.

Abigail Wright

Abigail and her husband Morgan Wright are a free African American couple living in Red Oak, Ohio, just north of Ripley. Their ancestors were Virginia slaves freed after the American Revolution and resettled by their owners in the Ohio River Valley. The Wrights own and operate a laundry business for individuals and businesses in the area. Abigail and Morgan are abolitionists, and active in the Underground Railroad.

Sarah King

Sarah is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Tobias King (Lucy’s master). Sarah grew up playing with Lucy, but now views herself as an adult and mistress over the slaves. Sarah’s primary interest is finding a suitable husband and marrying within in the next few years. She is an avid reader of ladies’ magazines and follows the latest fashions.

John Parker

John Parker (1827-1900) was a former slave who escaped from slavery in Alabama, was recaptured, and eventually purchased his own freedom. He moved to Ripley, Ohio in 1849, where he became active in the Underground Railroad. Parker was known to venture into Kentucky to help slaves across the Ohio River. He was a skilled iron worker, and one of the few African Americans to hold multiple patents during the 19th century. Parker eventually owned his own foundry, where he designed and manufactured farm tools. His Ripley house is a National Historic Landmark.

Mr. Otis

Mr. Otis is the overseer on Master King's plantation. Mr. Otis manages the enslaved labor and farming operations for Master King. Unlike Lucy and her family, Mr. Otis is paid a salary. He is a harsh supervisor who uses punishment—and fear of it—to force more labor from the slaves.

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison is a politician and member of the Free Soil Party from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is running for office as a state representative. Harrison opposes the expansion of slavery to the western territories, but does not advocate the immediate abolition of slavery. He believes freed slaves could never become equal citizens in the United States, and instead supports the idea of government financed colonization, which means sending freed slaves to Liberia, Africa.

T.C. Bercham

T.C. Bercham is a slave catcher based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Esther

Esther is the cook and a house slave on Master King’s plantation. Because she spends her days in the “Big House,” Esther overhears much of Master King’s business and passes information along to other slaves. Esther also travels to Lexington to shop for the household and gathers information from other enslaved workers and free blacks at the Lexington market.

Reverend John Rankin

John Rankin (1793-1886) was a Presbyterian minister who started out preaching in Tennessee, but was forced to leave when he made his anti-slavery views public. Rankin became an outspoken abolitionist in Ripley, Ohio, where he was extremely active in the Underground Railroad. His “Letters on Slavery” greatly influenced William Lloyd Garrison, Henry Ward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and other abolitionists around the country. Rankin lived in a house high on a hill in Ripley, overlooking the village and the Ohio River. During the forty years preceding the Civil War, it is estimated over 2,000 slaves passed through Ripley, many of whom were assisted by the Reverend Rankin and his family. Rankin’s house is currently a National Historic Landmark.

Nell

Nell is Lucy and Jonah’s mother. Nell is a field hand on Master King’s plantation. She works planting, hoeing, weeding, harvesting, and bundling hemp. Nell has a pass which allows her to visit her husband on a neighboring plantation occasionally.

Henry

Henry is a nineteen-year-old field hand on Master King’s plantation. Henry is a good friend of Lucy’s family. In addition to his duties in the fields, Henry is also responsible for tending the smokehouse – cutting wood and maintaining the fire whenever hogs have been butchered and are ready to smoke. Henry’s family was sold away from the King plantation the previous year. Henry is strong-willed and has a short temper. He has run off for days at a time over the past year.

Mrs. Porter

Mrs. Porter manages the Ripley Hotel with her husband. The hotel is located across from the ferry dock on the Ohio River. Originally from Kentucky, Mrs. Porter believes slavery is beneficial to both slaves and slave owners. Many of the hotel’s customers come from Kentucky.

Jonah

Jonah is an eight-year-old enslaved laborer on Master King’s plantation. He is Lucy’s younger brother.

Millie Hatcher

Millicent Hatcher is a twenty-one-year-old teacher who studied at the Hartford Female Seminary under Harriet Beecher Stowe. An outspoken abolitionist, she moved west to Ohio to teach in the Red Oak School under the supervision of Reverend Rankin.

Lucy

Lucy is a fourteen-year-old enslaved laborer on Master King’s hemp plantation, located 20 or so miles from Lexington, Kentucky. Lucy is the daughter of Nell. Lucy’s father was sold away to the nearby Preston plantation after a bad harvest. She only sees her father occasionally. Lucy is strong-willed and has gotten into trouble for speaking her mind. She grew up playing with the master’s daughter, Sarah, though their relationship has changed as they have grown older. Lucy works in the yard tending animals and the garden, washing clothes, toting water for field hands, and helping the cook.

Abigail Wright

Abigail and her husband Morgan Wright are a free African American couple living in Red Oak, Ohio, just north of Ripley. Their ancestors were Virginia slaves freed after the American Revolution and resettled by their owners in the Ohio River Valley. The Wrights own and operate a laundry business for individuals and businesses in the area. Abigail and Morgan are abolitionists, and active in the Underground Railroad.

Sarah King

Sarah is the fifteen-year-old daughter of Tobias King (Lucy’s master). Sarah grew up playing with Lucy, but now views herself as an adult and mistress over the slaves. Sarah’s primary interest is finding a suitable husband and marrying within in the next few years. She is an avid reader of ladies’ magazines and follows the latest fashions.

John Parker

John Parker (1827-1900) was a former slave who escaped from slavery in Alabama, was recaptured, and eventually purchased his own freedom. He moved to Ripley, Ohio in 1849, where he became active in the Underground Railroad. Parker was known to venture into Kentucky to help slaves across the Ohio River. He was a skilled iron worker, and one of the few African Americans to hold multiple patents during the 19th century. Parker eventually owned his own foundry, where he designed and manufactured farm tools. His Ripley house is a National Historic Landmark.

Mr. Otis

Mr. Otis is the overseer on Master King's plantation. Mr. Otis manages the enslaved labor and farming operations for Master King. Unlike Lucy and her family, Mr. Otis is paid a salary. He is a harsh supervisor who uses punishment—and fear of it—to force more labor from the slaves.

Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison is a politician and member of the Free Soil Party from Cincinnati, Ohio. He is running for office as a state representative. Harrison opposes the expansion of slavery to the western territories, but does not advocate the immediate abolition of slavery. He believes freed slaves could never become equal citizens in the United States, and instead supports the idea of government financed colonization, which means sending freed slaves to Liberia, Africa.

T.C. Bercham

T.C. Bercham is a slave catcher based in Lexington, Kentucky.