Barretts to Present 'In Search of an Old Abolitionist' Ahead of Juneteenth

An inquiry from one historical society to another has taken Frank and Michal Barrett on an interesting research journey and unveiled an incredible story.

The husband-and-wife team will share the tale of Jonathan Morris and his family when they present “In Search of an Old Abolitionist” at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 17 at Rodman Public Library.

Registration is required to attend the event, which is being sponsored by Alliance Historical Society, Greater Alliance Preservation Society, and Castle Crusaders, and is being held in advance of the Juneteenth holiday, which will be observed across the country on June 19.


As sexton of Quaker Hill Cemetery and a member of the Sebring Historical Society, Frank Barrett received an inquiry from the Little Beaver Historical Society, asking whether a Jonathan Morris that they believed to have been a conductor along the Underground Railroad near Cannelton, Pennsylvania, could be buried Sebring.

Of course, the Barretts set out to answer the question.

They found much, much more.

“The more we dug, the more we found,” said Barrett. “It seemed as if there was too much information not to do something more with the story.”

That something more became “In Search of an Old Abolitionist,” especially after a lady from New England, who saw a Facebook post, shared several letters that had been exchanged between a daughter of Jonathan Morris and the man who would become her husband.  

“There was nothing unusual about that other than that the Morris family were Hicksite Quakers and the prospective beau was a Methodist circuit rider,” joked Barrett. “The letters provided a closer look at the world of 19th Century Quakers in this area, the UGRR activity that took place in this part of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and even just area life in general circa 1846.”

Frank and Michal Barrett are both trained as educators.  Frank holds a BA in History from Bethany College and Michal holds a BA in Elementary Education from Bob Jones University.  While she is retired and he works in the private sector, they still teach and share their love of history with others by doing programs such as “In Search of an old Abolitionist.” 

Besides their involvement with the Sebring Historical Society, Michal is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Frank is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. They are also active members of the Alliance Area Preservation Society where they met and have been married for 16 years.

For more information about the program at RPL, call 330-821-2665, ext. 204.