Preble County District Library

Who was Old Gabe?

African American History of Preble County: 1820-1900


Friday, October 4, 2013 from 10:00am to 4:00pm

Preble County Arts Association 601 Hillcrest Drive, Eaton, OH 45320

Please contact the Preble County Room for reservations: (937) 456-4970 or There is a $5.00 charge for the provided box lunch which must be paid by the registration deadline of September 27, 2013. Local genealogical and historical books will be available to purchase at this event. The Preble County Room will be closed on October 4 for the Conference.


Schedule of Events

9:30am-10:00am Doors will be open at the PC Art Association to invite people in.
10-10:50am Ohio Humanities Speaker Cathy Nelson
11-11:50am Author and Friends Minister Donne Hayden
12-1pm Lunch
1-1:50pm Panel Discussion (10-15 minutes to introduce resources/panel member and open question time thereafter)
Dr. Ann-Eliza Lewis, Collection Manager of the Earlham College Joseph Moore Museum and Levi Coffin House
Mrs. Barb Cox, Preble County Historical Society Representative
Mr. Nicholas Patler, Author and Historian, Wayne County Historical Museum
2-2:50pm Local Historian and Author Walt Mast
3-4pm Preble County Room Staff

Guest Speakers:

Ohio Humanities Speaker Cathy Nelson

Ms. Nelson is founder and president emeritus of the Friends of Freedom Society, a nineteenth century historical research organization whose main focus is the underground railroad Ms. Nelson has testified in Congress on behalf of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Act of 1997 and she and her extensive research have won numerous awards and widespread recognition. Read More

Author and Friends Minister Donne Hayden

Minister Donne Hayden is the author of "A Sense of the Meeting-A History of Elk Monthly Meeting 1805-2005" which documents,amongst other things, the history of West Elkton Quakers and their involvement in the Underground Railroad, as well as the participation of African American Members.

Local Historian and Author Walt Mast

"The Bunker Hill House stands as a silent sentinel commemorating the pioneers who trudged across these lands searching for a better way of life in an expanding America, and to the slaves who journeyed through this area in the dark of night and risked their lives in their incredible struggle toward freedom and hope," said Walt Mast, owner of the house. -Cincinnati Inquirer, 2003

Panel Discussion Participants

Panel of distinguished historians, including, Dr. Ann-Eliza Lewis, Collection Manager of the Earlham College Joseph Moore Museum and Levi Coffin House, Preble County Historical Society Representative, Wayne County Historical Museum Executive Director James Harlan.

Preble County Room Staff

Supervisor Marlene Ressler will present the results of the PCDL Staff's research into the African American's experience in Preble County including the laws, residencies, cemetery sites, and Underground Railroad Conductors in Preble County during this time period. She will convey a fuller story of the lives of men such as "Old Gabe", a man who escaped slavery to Preble County.


This program is made possible, in part, by the Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the generous support of the Preble County Art Association, the Preble County Genealogical Society and the Commodore Preble, Daughters of the American Revolution, the research efforts of local author and historian Curtis Hodson, and the focused effort of the Staff of the Preble County District Library.

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Other Weekend Events in Preble County

  • Ohio Humanities Council Civil War Reinactor, Mark Holbrook presents "Billy Yank, the Life of a Soldier" @ 2pm, Preble County District Library Administration Building.
  • Apples and Pumpkins at the Garber Nature Center, Lewisburg
  • Fall Classic Truck & Tractor Pull, Preble County Fairgrounds
  • October Festival, 9-5pm Lewisburg Community Park and Movies at The Park
  • Fall Gathering, Preble County Historical Center
  • Preble County Conference and Visitors Bureau