Mount Pisgah - Thomas Walker Fry Church
Located on OH 775 just north of Proctorville, OH, this church was organized by Reverend Thomas Walker Fry, the leader of the manumitted Twyman slaves from Madison County, Virginia. For many years, the church served the areas black population. The cemetery across the road serves as the final resting place for many of the African American families who lived in this part of Ohio in the 19th and early 20th century.
Backstory and Context
Mt. Pisgah stands above the road on east side of OH 775, just over the ridge north of Proctorville. The church was begun in the late 1800s by Thomas Walker Fry, one of the famous 37 manumitted slaves who were freed by James Twyman in 1849. Although there is no written evidence documenting his involvement with helping escaped slaves, Fry was probably active in the Underground Railroad as Virginia's line was the Ohio River. Fry's reputation as a well known preacher would had allowed him to travel the region and to make contacts in numerous communities. If not an actual conductor or leader in the Underground Railroad, Fry would have at least known who was moving the region and could alert others to the movements of slave catchers.
Like many African Americans in the region, Fry likely helped escaped slaves as the Underground Railroad consisted primarily of local black citizens who took tremendous risks to aid other African Americans as they sought to escape slavery.
Federal Census of the United States, Lawrence County, Ohio 1850, 1860, 1870
Pratt, J. Earl: The Promised Land
The Advertiser, Huntington, WV: 2 Sep 1934.