John and Sarah Tibbets

from the Eleutherian "College Hill Gazette"


John H. Tibbets was born on June 27, 1818. He was the last son born to a strong abolitionist family.

John was born in Clermont County Ohio, to the parents of Dr. Samuel Tibbets II and Susanna Coombs Tibbets.

Dr. Samuel Tibbets was a prominent doctor in the Cincinnati area.

John's mother died in the year 1824. John was only eleven years of age.

It is not far to guess that John learned all there was from his family concerning the treatment of the black race, and the harshness of slavery. At the age of sixteen he started his career as an underground railroad conductor.

It was while in Ohio and growing into adulthood that he became acquainted with National figures in this secret society. Through his father he came to know such figures as John Rankin.

About the year 1843 John moved to Jefferson County, Indiana. His older brothers had moved earlier to the Neil's Creek area. It was at Neil's Creek that he first met Sarah Nelson.



Sarah Ann Nelson was born in the year 1820, in Indiana. She was the eldest daughter of James and Lucy (Whipple) Nelson.

Her father and mother had moved to Jefferson County, Indiana very early, around 1820. James had a soldier's claim on land located in the Neil's Creek area.

Like John's parents, James and Lucy Nelson were staunch abolitionist. They were both raised on the East coast, and brought their viewes with them from Vermont.

It was in James Nelson's kitchen that the idea for the Neil's Creek Antislavery Society was born. Joshua Tibbets (John's eldest brother) was the ringleader in this formation.

So, as the two families came together a marriage was in the stars. John and Sarah were married on September 22, 1844. This marriage joined two strong antislavery families.

It is not known at this time how many freedom seekers reached safety through John and Sarah Tibbets, but it is estimated in the hundreds.

Sarah served as a companion with John. She often times accompanied him on his conductor work. If she did not accompany him she was busy at home attending to the needs of those in transition.

On the weekend of September 16-17 [2006] we invite you to attend the marker dedication to honor these two extraordinary individuals, and secure their place in history.