New Albany, Indiana


The Second Baptist Church in New Albany, Indiana

The Second Baptist Church, located on Main Street in New Albany alongside the Ohio River, symbolized the Underground Railroad there.  Its formerly much taller spire steeple could be seen for miles by Kentucky slaveholders in Louisville on the opposite side of the river. Originally, the Second Presbyterian Church of the abolitionist New School, it was founded in 1847.  The church was completed in 1852 and blacks were members of its congregation.

View of Indiana shore from the Portland area of Louisville

View from behind the Second Baptist Church taken from the railroad tracks on the right

Among the church's leading members were principals in the New Albany-Salem Railroad that sometimes transported freedomseekers all the way to Michigan City on Lake Michigan. It collaborated with sister New School churches in nearby Charlestown, Blue River, and Madison. Among the leading figures in these Underground Railroad activities were Rev. John Atterbury, James Brooks, and John Loughmiller of the church and New Albany businessman, George Washington Carter, and boatman, William Harding.


Freedomseekers would stay in the church basement until it was safe to go north.  A tunnel built under Main Street, which connected the church to a medical center used during the Civil War, also may have been used to conceal freedomseekers.  Such a tunnel would’ve been quite useful because of the abolitionist reputation of the church and the numerous visits paid to the city by slavecatchers.

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