The Indiana Historical Bureau will hold a public dedication ceremony Friday afternoon near Madison for a new state historical marker. The marker will commemorate Chapman Harris, an Underground Railroad operative who helped escaped slaves cross the Ohio River.
The IHB says the historical marker "examines race relations along the Ohio River in the years prior to the Civil War and commemorates Harris’s efforts to aid escaping slaves despite threats to his own safety and freedom." The dedication will feature a first-person interpretation.
The text on the historical marker reads:
Harris, a free African American, came to Madison, 1839, as the fight over slavery along the Ohio River became more violent. He worked as a teamster, farmer, and Baptist minister. His family owned land in Eagle Hollow and Madison. Harris’s activities to aid enslaved persons crossing the Ohio River at Madison became widely known throughout Indiana after the Civil War. Harris faced assaults from slave-catchers; his hostility toward them and their allies led to his arrest and conviction for causing a riot in Madison, 1847. After the Civil War, Harris’s influence continued as local political leaders sought his help to promote allegiance to the Republican Party among newly enfranchised African American voters. He died in 1890.
The ceremony is scheduled for 1:00 at the intersection of Eagle Hollow Road and State Road 56, near the Eagle Hollow Marina.