With a setting on important routes heading to Lake Erie and freedom from Columbus, and with its known abolitionist leanings, Delaware County was on an important location for the Underground Railroad.
Many travelling along that fabled route found themselves along what is now Africa Road, which ran between Westerville and Africa.
An Ohio historic marker recounts how the settlement and the road got their names: “Samuel Patterson arrived in East Orange in 1824 and, within a few years, began to hide runaway slaves in his home. He also invited anti-slavery speakers to the pulpit of the East Orange Methodist Church, which brought Patterson and his neighbors into conflict with the bishop. Following their consciences, they became the Wesleyan Methodists and built a new church. A pro-slavery neighbor mocked them by calling their community Africa, and so East Orange was renamed. The village has disappeared but several homes owned by Patterson and his neighbors still stand in this vicinity.” More…