John Rankin House6152 Rankin Rd.
Ripley , OH 45167-1002
937-392-1627 | http://ripleyohio.net/htm/rankin.htm
The Life of Rev. John Rankin
The home of Rev. John Rankin has been preserved to memorialize the great abolitionist and force along the Underground Railroad, as well as tell the story of abolition, from the movements beginnings to its effects later in history.
John Rankin was born in Tennessee on February 4, 1793 and is known as one of Ohio’s most famous and influential conductors on the Underground Railroad. Rankin spent the first two decades of his life in the south, moving to Kentucky in 1815 and becoming a licensed Presbyterian Minister. Even as a native southerner growing up around legal slavery, Rankin was one of the first prominent advocates for the early abolition movement and his views never swayed. He preached against slavery during his time as a minister in Kentucky, making him unpopular and endangering his life and his family.
In 1822, Rankin and his family migrated to free territory and settled in Ripley. His home – still standing today as the Rankin House – was built in 1825 and used for over four decades as an Underground Railroad site. Rankin and others founded an antislavery denomination and continued preaching in the newly founded New School faction of the Presbyterian Church, where his antislavery beliefs were made clear with his continued outcry of opposition toward proslavery supporters. The Rankin House was the site of many mob gatherings of armed proslavery supporters, but Rankin held strong in his beliefs for freedom. Ripley became one of Ohio’s most active areas along the Underground Railroad because of Rankin and other members of the area’s Anti-Slavery Society. It is believed that Rankin helped over 2,000 fugitive slaves during his lifetime and is portrayed as a character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
Notes for Travelers
The Rankin House has been preserved as a National Historic Landmark and converted into a museum that interprets and presents the history of the abolitionist movement and the role it continued to play after the conclusion of the Civil War. The museum offers engaging guided tours of one of the best documented Underground Railroad sites in Ohio. Its location in Ripley allows visitors an opportunity to venture out and explore the town’s historic district and enjoy the view along the Ohio River Scenic Byway.
Additional ResourcesBattle Cry for Freedom: The Civil War Era, James McPherson.
Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad, Ann Hagedorn.