Network to Freedom

Spring Grove Cemetery was accepted into The National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program (NTF) in March 2022.  Spring Grove was 1 of 16 newly designated Network to Freedom sites across the United States, according to a March 29, 2022 National Park Service press release.
The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom (NTF) serves to honor, preserve, and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight.  There are currently over 700 NTF sites across the United States.
Medina has a rich history and role in the Underground Railroad during the mid-to-late 19th century.  Spring Grove Cemetery has verifiable connections to the Underground Railroad and is the final resting place for some of the good people who actively assisted freedom seekers and/or participated in the resistance to slavery.
Four people buried at Spring Grove have been recognized by the NTF for the significant roles they each played in the Underground Railroad and resistance to slavery:
  • Harrison Gray Otis Blake (1818-1876), former Ohio delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senator, was an Underground Railroad stationmaster who worked in tandem with his wife Elizabeth Blake (1821-1893) to provide shelter and resources to freedom seekers at their Medina home on East Washington Street.
  • Lt. Col. Herman Canfield (1817-1862) played a leadership role in the Underground Railroad in N.E. Ohio and, as a Medina attorney, represented defendants who were prosecuted for taking part in the 1858 Oberlin-Wellington Rescue. He served with the 72nd Ohio and was killed at the Battle of Shiloh.  His wife, Sarah Ann (Martha) (Treat) Canfield (1826-1889) established the Canfield Colored Orphan Asylum in Memphis, Tennessee to care for orphaned children of African-American Civil War soldiers. 

Both the Blakes and the Canfields are buried in Section 5 at Spring Grove Cemetery.