Township plans Community Campus, Underground Railroad Museum for the Barnard House
By Eddy K. Foster, Correspondent, UnionvilleTimes.com
POCOPSON — Township officials could not have asked for a better day to commemorate the life of one of its founding citizens. Eusebius Barnard, a prominent abolitionist and one of the original petitioners that created Pocopson Township, who was honored with a historic roadside marker by his former home on South Wawaset Road, Saturday.
The marker is the first such commendation in Pocopson Township, and was unveiled to the 60 officials, descendents, and others in attendance. The marker was unveiled by Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Conary and 99-year-old Margaret Barnard Chalfont, Eusebius Barnard’s oldest living relative.
Eusebius Barnard (b. 1802) was a prominent Chester County Quaker who was thrown out of the Kennett Friends Meeting for speaking out against slavery. He went on to help found the Progressive Friends Meeting, which took a more hard-line anti-slavery stance. He was also known for his strong views in support of women’s rights and temperance. His home, which still stands, was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Barnard himself was a leading conductor on the railroad, leading countless slaves to the safety of the north.
The township has big plans for the house, which it acquired as part of 68 acres it received from Chester County. Township Supervisor Georgia Brutcher said, “The vision of Pocopson Township is to make this building a municipal building containing an Underground Railroad museum.” The plan involves expanding the house to include a public meeting space and renovating the building to make room for the Kennett Underground Railroad Center and Museum.
Mary Larkin Dugan, President of the Kennett Underground Railroad Center, thanked Pocopson Township for pursuing the historic marker and for planning to donate space in the building to her organization. “This part of Chester County is perfect for us, not only because of its location in the rolling countryside, but also because this part of Chester County has the greatest concentration of Underground Railroad stations in the country,” she said.
State Sen. Andrew Dinniman praised the roadside marker, as well as the township’s plan for the building. “While it was against the law to assist a fugitive slave, Eusebius Barnard stood against the grain to do what was right,” he said. “Let us think of this house as a house of the righteous, to commemorate all those who do the right thing against powerful foes.”