(History of Belmont and Jefferson Counties, by J.A. Caldwell, 1880, pg. 534) "As early as 1817, a slave would occasionally get across that boundary line between slavery and freedom, the Ohio River, and strike out for Mount Pleasant, where that class was always kindly received by these good people and helped off on their way to a land beyond the reach of their masters."

Mount Pleasant was a very important stop on the Underground Railroad for many reasons. Let’s list some of the reasons why:

  • It was a "free" state bordered by slave states.
  • The Ohio River ran along the east and southeastern border.
  • It was not far from Wheeling, (West) Virginia where the slave auction block was located on 10th and Market Streets.
  • Mount Pleasant had a strong Quaker influence. Many Quakers migrated to Ohio from North Carolina (and other southern states) to "escape" slavery and show support for President Lincoln.

There were two main routes that ran from Martins Ferry to Mount Pleasant. One went on to Cadiz and the other on to Smithfield. The first station stop was at the home of Joel Wood located where the hospital now stands in Martins Ferry. From Mount Pleasant stations were located at the Hargrave home, across the street was Joel Woods’ to the home of Jacob Van Pelt which overlooked Martins Ferry. Then it was on to Thomas Pointer and the Clark cabins, both of which were located on Van Pelt’s property. One of the most famous stations in the area was at Cope’s Mill where hundreds of slaves were hidden behind the water wheel. The last remaining slave from eastern Ohio to go through the UGRR was Phoebe Richardson from Mount Pleasant.

In the Colerain area stations could be found at the homes of; Charles Wright, Dr. William Millhouse, Joshua Maules’ General Store, The Santon Hotel, and at the home of the known abolitionist, David Updegraff. From there one would go to the homes of; William Robinson (in Emerson), the Evans home, Ezra Cattell and Cyrus Mendenhalls’ were all known stations.

From the lower end of Martins Ferry the UGRR probably started with Pointer’s Mill and then on to Joshua Steele’s home or Isaac Vickers. Next stop was the Solomon Bracken home and the Rev. Dr. Benjamin Mitchells residence, which was just outside of Mount Pleasant on Township Road 100.

In the town of Mount Pleasant there were MANY stations of which are still standing. They include the homes of, George Jenkins, Jonathan Binns, John Hogg, David B. Updegraff, and Benjamin Lundy

The history of the African M.E. Church is somewhat obscure and meager, but as nearly as can be ascertained, it was organized as early as 1818. For some years the members rented a house for worship at the extreme western end of the village, which they finally bought and continued their meetings there until it became unfit to use. They sold the property and purchased another lot near by on which they built a neat brick house. The gable stone from this church can be seen at the Mount Pleasant Historical Center. The church once numbered as high as 170 members at one time but like many of the churches it has had its internal dissentions and in 1871 fifteen members withdrew their memberships and formed a new church called the Colored M.E. Church.

As of 1880, they did not have a house of worship but met in the colored schoolhouse. The following is a list of the ministers since their separation:

  • Alexander Hargrave, 1871-3
  • Lewis Carr, 1874
  • Jacob Skinner, 1875
  • Jessie Hargrave, 1876-8
  • George Carr, 1879

(Read more from the History of Belmont & Jefferson Co.Caldell, 1880 and learn more by joining the Mount Pleasant Historical Society.)