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Tracing History

Oldham County Historical Society director Theiss to release new book

It explores sites identified with the
Underground Railroad

LA GRANGE, Ky. (February 2020) – In 2018 Nancy Stearns Theiss, executive director of the Oldham County Historical Society, took a small group on a tour along the Ohio River to explore the sites and places that have been identified on the Underground Railroad. From the tour,
Theiss wrote a book that identifies museums, places and historic sites and homes that served as connections for freedom seekers that crossed the boundary from the slave side, south of the river to the free soil on the north side. The book is titled “A Tour on the Underground Railroad along the Ohio River” and planned for release on Feb. 3.
According to Theiss, by experiencing these places and settings, you gain an understanding of the actual dangers and obstacles that freedom seekers had to make, most of which were life threatening, to flee their enslavement. As the threat of Civil War loomed, the Underground Railroad became a well-connected system where many became conductors to help their brothers and sisters cross that dangerous boundary. 
The river symbolized a “beacon of hope” that inspired stories and narratives that serve as an inspiration for those who sacrificed their lives for the democracy we enjoy today. One of the stories inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” that was based on real people and places in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. 


The book identifies special places along a 664-mile stretch of the Ohio River, where readers can follow and visit these places of the past. There are details about the museums, historic houses, and specific sites that have been researched and verified as a part of the UGRR. As an example, the Oldham County History Center, where Theiss works, has two sites on the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network.
Copies of the book can be reserved for the release date. Theiss will also do a lecture and signing on the History Center’s new Wine and Words Series on Feb. 13 at the Little Kentucky River Winery Tasting Room, 205 E. Main St. in La Grange. Cost for the Wine and Words Series is $15 for History Center members or $17 for non-members. The price includes lunch.
Retail copy for the book is $23.99 with partial profits to benefit the Oldham County History Center. The book is published by The History Press. The book will also be available for purchase through retail outlets and museums.

• For reservations at the Wine and Words Series or to reserve your copy of the book, call the Oldham County History Center at (502) 558-0421.

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