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1830-1859: The Early Years

Akron – like the rest of the Western Reserve – shared with its parent New England the most violent sentiments against slavery. During the Fifties one artery of the Underground Railroad system led through Akron, and there were stations here and in other parts of the county. ~ The Centennial History of Akron ~

1830 Census – indicates five free colored persons residing in Portage Township (Akron area)

1836 – one of the earliest black families to reside in Akron area was the family of Edward and Sarah Smith – Smith had been a barber in Columbus, Ohio, before coming to Akron

1840 Census – the black population increased to between 20 and 40

1850 Census - the black population increased to 73

1860 Census – the black population decreased to 24 (a stricter Fugitive Slave Law led to black flight)

Black occupations listed before the Civil War were laborers, barbers (3), blacksmith (1), mason (1), sailor (1) and boatman (1)

The Underground Railroad passed through Akron where slaves were assisted in their flights to Canada. 

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