grant launches new
Henry Bibb Heritage Trail Project
dig planned in August
(August 2005) Meetings held July 19-20 marked the start
of an elaborate new project by the Oldham County History Center to create
an education program to honor Henry Bibb (1815-1854), a prominent abolitionist
who endured and overcame slavery to become the first black editor of
a newspaper in Canada.
of Henry Bibb,
by Donna Hoehl
The group first met in La Grange to discuss the National
Henry Bibb Heritage Trail Project. Since this story covers three Kentucky
counties Oldham, Trimble and Henry and goes
from the Deep South to Canada, it is a big project and the first Underground
Railroad trail the National Park Service is considering.
Those attending this meeting were Barbara Tagger and Diane Miller of
the National Park Service, Michelle Gammon of the Rivers Institute of
Hanover College, Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens and Carl
Westmoreland from the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in
History Center Executive Director Nancy Theiss moderated, historian
Diane Coon presented the parameters for the trail, Jeannie Krinebrink,
project archaeologist, gave the archaeology oversight.
Bibb escaped from Trimble County and eventually made his way to freedom
in Canada where he wrote The Life & Adventures of Henry Bibb,
published in 1849. He accurately recalls names, distances and places
so that the book is currently used as a reference to locate sites.
The Oldham County History Center was awarded a $5,000 grant from the
Kentucky Heritage Council to conduct a feasibility study that investigates
the various options for developing this program. The project will explore
the possibility of creating a National Henry Bibb Trail, which will
follow Bibbs journeys beginning in Kentucky and ending in Canada
as well as develop an educational package that examines slavery as an
experience by Bibb. In addition, the project will include the contributions
and achievements of the African American people to the society and government
of the United States during the 19th Century.
Robert Young of Bedford located the Old Bedford Road across the Young
family farm. In the 1840s, his family owned and operated a general store.
They kept a ledger of transactions that Young brought to the meeting.
There is mention of a woman who fits the description of Malinda Bibb
in that ledger. People in Henry County already found records for the
sale of Henry and his mother.
The Rivers Institute at Hanover College is interested in creating an
Underground Railroad experience that would involve a river crossing
from Preston Plantation in Trimble County to Hanover, Ind., and finally
ending at Eleutherian College in Lancaster, north of Madison.
Just such a crossing took place May 21 with of group of more than 30
High school students from the Cincinnati area who were training with
the Freedom Center took part with representatives from Madison Area
Convention & Visitors Bureau, Jefferson County Historical Society
and the HAQ Center for Cross-Cultural Education at Hanover College.
Professor Ted Farrell led the group through the days events.
The Rivers Institute, in conjunction with the Freedom Center, plans
to make this tour an annual event. Between the Henry Bibb Trail in Kentucky
and the Rivers Institute interest in developing sites in Indiana, it
would seem a two-day tour would be required to cover this area, group
The main objective for the KHC grant, meanwhile, is to conduct an archeological
investigation at the Gatewood Plantation, located outside of Bedford
in Trimble County. This investigation is the first of its kind that
explores the possibility of an educational program around Bibbs
life in the United States. Bibb has already been designated in Canada
as an important historical figure.
The grant will conduct two archaeological investigations at the Gatewood
Site under Kreinbrinks direction. The first investigation will
be at 8:30 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 27 and is open to all members of the historical
societies in Trimble, Oldham and Henry counties through advanced registration.
The second investigation will be during the second week of September
and will be open to high school students and teachers from several targeted
Coon is the principal historian for this grant. The Oldham County History
Center will be directing the educational projects. The next meeting
will be held Oct. 26.
For more information, call Nancy Theiss
or Devin Oak at the Oldham County History Center at (502) 222-0826.
Back to August 2005 Articles.