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Intrepid Adams researcher: ‘The buildings weren’t the Underground Railroad; the people were’

Deb McCauslin, writer, historian

Deb McCauslin visits grave markers at Yellow Hill in Butler Township, Adams County, in 2005. McCauslin regularly talks about the history of this site – an 1800s black cemetery and church. She also regularly presents on Adams County’s vital link to the Underground Railroad. McCauslin addressed a gathering at York’s Crispus Attucks Community Center earlier this week. Also of interest: Underground Railroad expert: ‘We cannot alter past ignorance, but we can resolve not to repeat it’ and York/Adams’ interest in Underground Railroad grows and ‘An Evening With William Goodridge’ in York, Pa.
Deb McCauslin is a literally digging up important Adams County history.
The researcher is also an effective communicator about the 1800s black community that lived alongside Quakers on Yellow Hill in the Biglerville area of northern Adams County. And that research has linked up with that area’s Underground Railroad past, focusing in and around Menallen Quaker Meeting, which aided fugitives before the Civil War.
Her hands-on work has included identifying and restoring a black cemetery at long-gone Yellow Hill, a community last mentioned in newspaper accounts in the early 1920s, according to McCauslin’s findings.
Interesting – and important stuff. And engaging.
A forgotten community. The Underground Railroad. Brave Quakers who defied the law in harboring fugitives to freedom… .

Earlier this week, McCauslin told about her work, drawing from her book: “Reconstructing the Past: Puzzle of the Lost Community at Yellow Hill,” at a new series at the Crispus Attucks Community Center. That program, CU@2 Lecture Series, is designed to raise money for the William C. Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Railroad Museum.
Students of York County history should take notice of McCauslin’s work.
Adams County’s Underground Railroad history is York County’s, too. Many fugitives would have headed east through York County to the Susquehanna River. A band of Quaker meeting houses stood across York County’s northern tier – Warrington, Lewisberry and Newberrytown.
More importantly, it shows the great contributions one person can make in adding to a community’s understanding of its past. Those contributions come through digging in the ground and through miles of microfilm.
“The buildings weren’t the Underground Railroad; the people were,” McCauslin told the York Daily Record/Sunday News. “I’m interested in the stories of the people who were living through this time in history. I find it fascinating.”
York County needs a Deb McCauslin to dig into its Underground Railroad past.
York countians would be fascinated, too.
To learn more about McCauslin and her research topic, visit: gettysburghistories.com.
Also of interest:
– All posts concerning Underground Railroad in York County.