Home History Who is Aunt Polly Jackson? Freedom Fighter on the Underground Railroad
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Who is Aunt Polly Jackson? Freedom Fighter on the Underground Railroad

Aunt Polly Jackson

by Peter Barnes
Aunt Polly Jackson
The Underground Railroad in Ohio – The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Aunt Polly Jackson | Pinterest

Who was Polly Jackson?

Aunt Polly Jackson was a remarkable woman who lived during the mid-1800s and dedicated her life to protecting fugitive slaves from white slavers. Her story is a testament to the bravery and resilience of Black women during a time of widespread oppression and discrimination.

In the mid-1800s, enslaved Africans in America sought various means to gain their freedom. While slave rebellions and protests were prevalent, they were not always effective. The creation of the Underground Railroad System between the mid-18th to the early 19th century was a significant turning point.

The heroics of Aunt Polly Jackson, a brave and resilient woman who risked her life to help others, stand as a testament to the courage of those who fought for freedom during the dark period of slavery in America.

How did the Underground Railroad affect slavery?

Aunt polly jackson
Photo – Pinterest

With the help of abolitionists and freed slaves, secret escape routes were created to help slaves escape harsh conditions in the South and attain freedom in the North or in Canada. The routes were popularly known as the Underground Railway.

However, the loss of slaves and labor on plantations owned by white enslavers began to have a toll on their production and income. As a result, anti-abolitionists devised the Reverse Underground Railroad system, where escaped slaves were recaptured and brought back to their plantations or sold to new owners.

The Reverse Underground Railroad System

The Reverse Underground Railroad system became very successful, and many anti-abolitionists disguised themselves as abolitionists eager and ready to help fugitive slaves. Many of the recaptured slaves were trapped in houses, attacked, and injured to prevent them from moving. A few were killed for resisting.

Soon, the Underground Railroad System became a dangerous route, but many hopeful slaves risked their lives to escape into freedom.

The Courage of Aunt Polly Jackson

Aunt polly jackson
Aunt Polly Jackson | Photo: African Archives

It took the courage of freed slaves like Aunt Polly Jackson to help fight off anti-abolitionists and help fugitives escape or hide to continue their trip to freedom.

While not much is known about Aunt Polly Jackson’s early life, it is known that she was a former slave herself. Fed up with the harsh treatment that was meted out to her even in her old age, she decided to escape to freedom.

Through the Underground Railroad, she escaped and ended up in the North, settling in Ohio in a settlement known as Africa. The settlement was along the Underground Railway route, and fugitives could decide to stay or continue up North after resting. Anti-Abolitionist Aunt Polly was offered land and settled in Africa, starting a small farm to sustain herself.

Aunt Polly’s Heroic Actions

Polly Jackson, Billy Marshall, and Rhoda Jones all helped and aided runaway slaves to freedom
Polly Jackson, Billy Marshall, and Rhoda Jones all helped and aided runaway slaves to freedom | Pinterest

As fugitives made their way to freedom through the Underground Railroad, many of them passed through Aunt Polly Jackson’s land in the North. She witnessed first-hand the violence and attacks perpetrated by anti-abolitionists against these escapees. Frustrated with the lack of external help, Aunt Polly decided to take matters into her own hands to protect and rescue runaway slaves.

She became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. To avoid suspicion, Aunt Polly disguised herself as an elderly and defenseless woman. She carried a cloth wrapped around her shoulder that concealed a butcher knife, and a kettle of boiling water which she used as a weapon. Aunt Polly’s bravery and cunning allowed her to fend off several slave catchers along the Underground Railroad, often under the cover of darkness.

Aunt Polly’s tactics were effective and often carried out at night and in some cases, she resorted to pouring boiling water on slave hunters when her knife was not enough to fend them off.

Her daring actions and success in thwarting the efforts of anti-abolitionists inspired similar attacks on white slave hunters, which helped to undermine the Reverse Underground Railroad system.

Aunt Polly’s Legacy

The Underground Railroad in Ohio – The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
The Underground Railroad in Ohio – The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable

After dealing with the anti-abolitionists, she hosted the fugitives in her house and helped them with direction if they chose to continue their journey.

Soon, the legend of Aunt Polly became widespread, and similar attacks on white enslavers along the Underground Railway route began to happen. Attacks started to get more deadly, resulting in the death of many white slave hunters, but the tricks of Aunt Polly Jackson helped suppress the Reverse Railroad System.

She Fought Grown Men To Help Her People Gain Freedom | Aunt Polly Jackson (Video)


In conclusion, Aunt Polly Jackson was a true hero who risked her own safety to fight against the Reverse Underground Railroad and protect the lives of runaway slaves. Her bravery and determination paved the way for the eventual end of slavery in America.

Her legacy lives on today as a symbol of hope, perseverance, and the power of ordinary people to make a difference in the face of injustice. The story of Aunt Polly Jackson reminds us that there is still much work to be done in the fight for equality and social justice, and that we must continue to work towards a world where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect.

Source: Ohio Memory, F2FA | All the information & photo credit goes to respective authorities. DM for removal please.

Related: Stagecoach Mary Field: Rough American Female Pioneer – Amazing story

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