Clio Logo

The story of Black settlers in Oxford County follows two main threads: that of free Black people encouraged to move to the region by the Norwich Quakers, and that of others fleeing their enslavement in the United States along the Underground Railroad and reaching safe haven in Ingersoll. Being centrally located between Detroit and Niagara, Ingersoll was chosen by famed American abolitionist John Brown as a place to hold fundraising and friend raising events.


Many fugitive slaves arrived from across Lake Erie at Port Burwell. From there they were brought by stage coach to Ingersoll along the newly-built “plank road.” The stage was driven by Harvey C. Jackson, an abolitionist, and owned by Absolom Daly, whose Daly House was the biggest hotel in Ingersoll. Construction of both the plank road itself and the Oxford County section of the Great Western Railroad provided jobs for the recently arrived former slaves. By the 1850s, one-quarter of the population living in Ingersoll were Black. Upwards of 500 people had found freedom and a safe haven in the town.

These stories and more can be found on permanent display at the Ingersoll Museum.