Ridgefield Cave Once a Hiding Place on the Underground Railroad
Historian Jack Sander's research has uncovered a cave in Ridgefield that was a part of the 'Underground Railroad.'
Sander's investigation began after discovering an 1879 New Haven Register article about a skeleton that was found in a cave that was used by a black couple, Uncle Ned and Aunt Betsey, to hide fugitive slaves that were on their way north via the 'Underground Railroad' before the Civil War. Jack Sander's told the Newstimes,
The station's site went on to be the home of at least five men of color who fought in the Civil War, two of whom died while in the service and two others who were wounded.
Fugitive slaves entered Connecticut at several different points, including a western Connecticut route that included Waterbury, New Milford, Washington, Torrington, Winsted, and Winchester. Slaves escaping via the Underground Railroad sometimes decided to settle in some of the communities along the way.
According to an article in the Hartford Courant, 1774 was the year Connecticut contained the highest number of slaves, which totaled 5,101. Stratford led the way with 319, followed by Fairfield with 315 and Danbury with 50. Sanders quotes the writer of the 1879 New Haven Register article.
Behind the house is a cave that furnished a hiding place and shelter for the weary liberty-seekers, and there Uncle Ned and Aunt Betsey supplied food and clothing until, rested and refreshed, under darkness of night, they would flee from this land of 'freedom' to Canada.