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Built in 1821, this house served as a safe haven for slaves traveling the underground railroad in northeast Ohio.


  • Picture of the Spring Hill house
  • Speech reenactment by Abe Lincoln.

Thomas and Charity Rotch were a Quaker couple from New England who were devoted to helping slaves escape through the underground railroad. In 1811 they moved to northeast Ohio primarily to cure Charity’s case of spotted fever by living in a healthier climate. For their first 9 years in northeast Ohio they lived in a log cabin on 4,000 acres which was used as a safe haven for runaway slaves. They kept the runaways in the upper story which was a successful hideout until the house that stands today was built in 1821. The house was designed by Jehial Fox and features a hidden staircase that leads directly from the basement to the second floor while being hidden from the first story. Thanks to this innovation, no runaway was ever caught at the Springhill house. Unfortunately, Thomas died in 1823 and Charity a year later. The house was passed to their heirs but was sold to Arvine Wales in 1830 who also supported the abolition movement. Arvine added a west wing to the house in 1831.

The house has been owned by the Wales family since the 1830 purchase and has been recognized by the Friends of Freedom Society as an underground railroad site. In addition, it’s known as the oldest house of significance in Massillon, Ohio.

The Rotches' story is the focus of a book by Ethel Conrad, Invaluable Friends: Thomas and Charity Rotch. The house also has open tours. The house also features a live underground railroad experience reenactment. More information can be found by calling 330-833-6749 or visiting www.massillonproud.com/springhill

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/oh12.htm