Sample Chapter – Short History of Museums Indiana Edition – Levi Coffin Home

Sample Chapter

Short History of MuseumsIndiana Edition

Levi Coffin Home

Levi Coffin State Historic SiteTitle of Marker:
Levi Coffin
113 US 27 North, Fountain City. (Wayne County, Indiana)
Installed by:
Installed: 2002 Indiana Historical Bureau and Levi Coffin House Association, Inc
Marker ID #:
Marker Text:
Side one:

Levi Coffin (1798-1877), a Quaker abolitionist, lived in Newport (now Fountain City) with his family 1826-1847. Moved from North Carolina because he and his wife, Catharine, opposed slavery. Advocated, and sold in his store, free-labor products not produced by slaves. House built circa 1839; designated a National Historic Landmark 1966.
Side two:
Coffin’s Reminiscences (1876) documented work in Underground Railroad and antislavery movement. The Underground Railroad refers to a widespread network of diverse people in the nineteenth century who aided slaves escaping to freedom from the southern U.S.
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Short History by the Author
Levi Coffin (October 28, 1798 – September 16, 1877)
The only son of Quakers Prudence and Levi Coffin Sr, Levi had six sisters. The family lived on a farm near New Garden, North Carolina. Coffin became opposed to slavery at an early age and by the time he reached fifteen years old he began helping slaves escape their owners. This was a common activity for Quakers in the region. For a short time Levi operated a school for slaves, teaching them to read the bible. The authorities soon made him stop this activity. The slave owners of North Carolina became enraged at the Quakers and began persecuting them, finally driving them from the state. Many moved to Indiana and Levi’s family was among them. Levi made an exploratory trip to Indiana in 1822 and determined that he wanted to move there. He and Catherine White married in 1824 and moved to Indiana in 1826 with their new born son Jesse.
In Indiana
The family settled in Newport, Indiana. the city has since changed its name to Fountain City. Levi purchased a plot of ground to farm and a year after that opened a store. Levi discovered that the town was on the route of the Underground Railroad and began assisting slaves in their flight, using his home to shelter and hide them. His business at first suffered, because many boycotted it because of his activities, but soon this passed and he began to prosper. He was able to make an investment in a local bank and as a result, became a director. His newfound prosperity enabled him to fund his Underground Railroad activities. Historians estimate he helped over 2000 escaped slaves flee to freedom. Pressure to halt his activities continued and he received death threats. In spite of the pressure, he continued to hide and shelter runaway slaves.
In 1847 Levi moved to Cincinnati to manage the Western Free Produce Association. This was a business that would only deal with merchandise not associated with the slave trade. Supply problems plagued this business and it struggled for years. He had rented his Newport business out and it continued to serve runaway slaves. Meanwhile, he used his connections to aid escaping slaves in the Cincinnati area. When the Civil War ended he raised money for the Western Freedman’s Aid Society, an organization that sought to help the former slaves adjust to freedom. After the Fifteenth Amendment passed he retired to his Avondale, Ohio home where he passed away in 1877. Levi Coffin State Historic Site
The State of Indiana purchased the home in 1967. After completing the restoration work, the home was opened to the public. The Indiana State Museum operates the Levi Coffin Home through the Levi Coffin House Association as a State Historic Site. Visitors may tour the eight room home, designated as one of the top twenty-five historic sites in the United States. The home contains much of the original furnishings from the Coffins and the Newport Community. For more information about the Levi Coffin Home, visit:Levi Coffin State Historic Site113 U.S. 27 NorthFountain City, IN 47341Phone:

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