(Taken from History of Clark County, Ohio
(Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co, 1881) ,pp. 767-768)
"As early as 1830, the agitation of the subject of human slavery stirred up the people of Selma. Parts of the Quaker and Methodist Churches of the village were particularly bitter in their opposition to any measure that tended to favor the peculiar institution of the States of the South. This sentiment grew in strength and bitterness as years increased, until both the Methodist Episcopal and the Hicksite Quaker churches suffered disruption on its account. But the extremists never faltered. They were not outlaws; but they recognized no human law which made them tools to capture and carry back to bondage the fugitive human chattel of an inhuman master. For many years they labored and suffered for those in bonds, as bound with them. For many years they bowed in Christian love before God, and prayed for an oppressed people. With an unwavering faith and a tireless energy, they worked in fraternal union for the freedom and enfranchisement of their despised colored brethren, and shared together the odium attached to the name of Abolitionist, and , though many of them died before the dawning of the day of jubilee, they left to their descendants a legacy of daring devotion to a cause which redeemed the land from the curse of slavery, though with the atoning blood of many a battlefield.
For many years preceding the outbreak of the rebellion of 1861, Selma was known as a station of the underground railroad. This fact was nearly as well known in Kentucky and Canada as in Ohio Slaves escaping from their masters in Kentucky were, by a succession of night drives, or by weary nights on foot, brought by parties further south to this point on the route. Here they waited only long enough to change the manner of travel, or to make some necessary preparation for the remainder of the journey to Canada, and again were off in the direction of Mechanicsburg, Springfield or Marysville. The agents and employees of the route were well organized; their trips were made on time, their freight was never lost. The road has gone down for lack of business. The descendants of Thomas Borton, William Thorne, Isaac Newcomb, Daniel Wilson, Joseph A. Dugdale, Richard Wright and Pressly Thomas have no reason to blush at the mention of the daring deeds of their heroic fathers in connection with the history of the underground railroad.
The Friends community spanned, and still spans, many counties in both Ohio and Indiana. The perspective of The Society of Friends (both Hicksite and Orthodox) was not limited to the Waynesville~Warren County area. The network of relationships fostered by attendance at Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Meetings ran deep and spanned many counties and states and helped to unify Friends. It is also important to recognize that Quaker opinion on any topic has never been monolithic and that both Hicksite and Orthodox Quaker beliefs were often shared in the same families and among friends. Unfortunately, as is common in all religious conflicts, these beliefs sometimes divided families and friends. Besides conventional Quakerism (Orthodox and Hicksite), radical Friends, (i.e. The Congregational Friends) also had a presence in the area around Selma, Ohio at Green Plain Monthly Meeting (see Quaker Meetinghouses in Selma, Madison Township, Clark County, Ohio ~ Green Plain). The Quaker landscape was truly interesting with its wide range of opinions and activities. Miami Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) in Waynesville was a stronghold of moderate Hicksite Quakerism. Center Monthly Meeting in Clinton County and Selma, Harveysburg and Oakland Meetings were noted for their radical abolitionists and other more liberal Friends. The differences between Friends were heartfelt and could cause division. The same can be said concerning different groups of abolitionists of the day. However, in the west among Friends, these issues were not quite as conflict-ridden as the same in the east. The western pioneering spirit seems to have moderated people’s responses and so there is eventually healthy cooperation between Orthodox and Hicksite and even toleration, although with great reservation, for the radicals. Consequently, in the northern parts of Warren and Clinton Counties a wide spectrum of religious and political thought existed.
The Congregational Friends came into existence after the 1828 Hicksite Schism in 1848. Radical Friends who advocated immediate abolition usually chose to become Hicksite Friends after the 1828 schism. Most then also went on later to become Congregational Friends. Hicksites initially were critical of the creedal restraints put on their spiritual freedom by the Orthodox Friends. When Hicksite Friends began to criticize their members who advocated immediate abolition, those radicals “came out from” the Hicksites and founded Congregational Friends (also later known as Friends of Human Progress). They did not tolerate any kind of limitation on the freedom of conscience. There was to be no obstruction to individual expression or to divine inspiration. Congregational Friends were also advocates of Spiritualism, the belief in communication between the living and the dead. Spiritualism became a widely popular phenomenon in the United States with the advent of the Fox Sisters of Rochester, N.Y. and their experience of Spiritual Rapping. Spiritualism had long been of interest to members of reform movements. For example, William Lloyd Garrison was a spiritualist. For more information, see, Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century American by Ann Braude (Boston, MA.: Beacon Press [The Press of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations], 1989), pp. 11-30.