By Carol Stivers –
Members and friends are invited to attend the annual meeting of the John P. Parker Historical Society that will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 23, 2017 at the Parker House, 300 N. Front Street in Ripley.
The guest speaker will be noted writer and author Caroline R. Miller of Augusta, KY. ‘Eliza, Eliza Jane, Eliza Harris: Who were you?’ is the title of the most recent booklet Miller has written in the Historical Series for the Bracken County Historical Society. Miller will be speaking about these three women named “Eliza.”
For decades, Miller has heard the tale of “Eliza’s” crossing on the ice floe from South Ripley in Kentucky to the banks of Ripley and upward to Rev. John Rankin’s Underground Railroad station on Liberty Hill.
During Miller’s past years of compiling slavery related articles and later writing a book on slavery and the Underground Railroad in Kentucky and Ohio, she came across numerous references to one of the most famous female heroines in our nation’s history.
When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, also titled as Life Among the Lowly in the early 1850s, Stowe named her central figure “Eliza”. Several towns in Kentucky and farther south have attempted to place the action of “Eliza’s” crossing in their locations. However, Miller will talk about the preponderance of evidence that places the crossing over the Ohio River by a half frozen mother and her child at Ripley, Ohio, and Stowe’s connections with the Rankin family where she possibly heard about this slave mother’s crossing.
In order to properly sort the evidence, all researchers have to separate the stories of Rankin’s female slave fugitive, the court documents of Brown County’s “Eliza” Jane Johnson, as well as the Rankin narratives concerning the character “Eliza” who was the center of controversy in Stowe’s novel.
Miller is the author of three published books: Grapevine Dispatch, Capitol Murder or Capital Mayhem, and an Images of America Series Bracken County.
She is a former English, writing, and history teacher and is a long-time resident of Augusta, Kentucky. Miller is currently a board member of John P. Parker Historical Society, Augusta School Foundation, and past board member of Bracken County Historical Society, Kentucky Historical Society, a member of the Ohio River National Freedom Corridor and other local societies.
A brief business meeting will precede the program. Light refreshments will be served. Plan to attend this interesting program at 2 pm on Sunday, April 23.