The storied past of the church at 315 Decatur St. is being recalled as Black History Month is celebrated across the U.S. Second Baptist, which boasts its own historical marker in the front, has gone by several names in its 164 years.
Seven former slaves and black freemen formed the church in 1849, under the name Zion Baptist Church.
Before the Civil War it was reorganized under a new name: First Regular Anti-Slavery Baptist Church. It was a bold name, and the church lived up to it.
The Sandusky History blog, citing an account by the 19th century anti-slavery advocate and lawyer Rush Sloane, notes that local blacks were the backbone of the Underground Railroad, the secret network that helped slaves who escaped bondage in the South make their way to freedom in Canada.
"Sandusky's Second Baptist Church was an active station on the Underground Railroad," according to the blog. "Fugitive slaves were fed and housed at the church while waiting for their passage to Canada."
Read more about the church's role in black history in today's Register or e-paper.