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Chestnut Street marker for Underground Railroad conductor

A marker honoring Oswell Wright, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, stands in the yard of Faye Stauth at 417 E. Chestnut St., marking the piece of land owned by Wright, at least for some period of his life, as a free black man in the late 1800s.
Wright bought Lot 128 in 1849, then sold and bought it back several times, before finally selling it in 1850 to Hugh Neely, according to a historical summary of Wright written by researcher and historical marker program manager Jeremy Hackerd with the Indiana Historical Bureau in Indianapolis.
Commissioned by Maxine Brown with the support of the Leora Brown School and other community organizations, including Community Unity, it is the first historical marker located along Chestnut Street, and Brown said it was done to honor one of the most prominent Underground Railroad conductors in Harrison County.
According to historical documentation, Wright helped a blacksmith and slave from Brandenburg named Charles escape from his owner, Henry Ditto. Ditto, however, took revenge on Wright, capturing him and two others and imprisoning them in the Brandenburg jail. Wright was put on trial for ‘enticing a slave to leave his master’ and eventually found guilty. He spent five years in the Kentucky Penitentiary for his involvement with Charles. He returned to Corydon after he was released in 1864.
Brown said she only became aware of Wright’s history after she returned to Corydon 30 years ago, and she has since wanted to see this marker erected.
‘I had wanted to get an historic marker for Oswell Wright some time ago, but since I so busy only in the last year completed all of the paperwork necessary for the marker,’ Brown said.
Part of completing the task was finding a place to put it.
‘I asked (Stauth) to write a letter of support for having the marker so close to her house,’ Brown said. ‘She wrote the letter to the Town of Corydon and seemed thrilled to have the marker located there.’
Stauth, 93 and a former second-grade teacher, said the marker is in front of the home she bought, for the first time, 65 years ago. She’s lived in the house off Chestnut several times during her life, eventually coming back to stay years ago. She can regularly be seen sitting on her enclosed porch, where she said she pretty much lives these days, reading or doing crossword puzzles. Now, she can also add to her pastime watching the crowds drawn by the marker.
‘Lots of people have stopped by,’ she said, since the marker went up about two weeks ago.
Stauth said it makes her very proud to have a marker honoring a prominent figure in Harrison County’s Underground Railroad history.
‘And to be the first one to have (a marker) on my street,’ she said.
A formal dedication for the marker is planned for Aug. 16. Look for more details closer to that date.

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