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Our town was on the Underground Railroad

Could be Bluffton's best-kept secrets

Details in a recently found obituary of a Bluffton man who died 125 years ago could be one of the most incredible discoveries in the community’s history.

There’s no historic marker at the entrance to town and the person in this story is buried in an unmarked Maple Grove Cemetery grave, listed as old lot number 120.


Would you believe Bluffton was a documented stop on the underground railroad moving African American slaves to Canada? That fact came to light recently with the discovery of the obituary or Peter K. Mumma, who died here in 1898.

Mumma’s secret was well-kept as his obituary reads, from a June 1898, Bluffton News.

In a search for his Bluffton residence, an 1880 map shows Elizabeth Mumaugh (sic) owner of Bluffton lot 19, on Riley Street directly south of where Little Riley joins Big Riley Creek. An adjoining property, lot 12, owned by Elizabeth Mumaugh and Wilhelmina Eaton is on the north side of Riley Street, and today is intersected by Spring Street. Peter’s obituary lists his wife’s name as Elizabeth.

The Bluffton News humbly states his participation in this noble cause with these words: His home became a notorious hiding place of slaves who had escaped from their masters and were seeking freedom in Ohio.

His obituary from the

June 16, 1898, Bluffton News follows:

Peter K. Mumma died Tuesday June 7, 1898, at his home in Bluffton, his death being due in a large part to the enfeeblement of old age. Funeral services were held at the Church of Christ on Thursday afternoon, Rev. Mayer officiating.

The remains were laid to rest in Maple Grove Cemetery. The funeral was largely attended, as the deceased was a pioneer resident of the town and enjoyed a wide circle of acquaintances.

Just at the time that President Monroe issued his world-renowned proclamation enunciating the Monroe Doctrine, which now is an important factor in the policy of our government, Peter K. Mumma was born July 29, 1819, at Mount Joy, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Notwithstanding the limited facilities at that early period, he acquired an excellent education in both the English and German languages. He also spoke French quite fluently. He devoted much of his time in early life to the study of the great political questions, which then agitated this growing republic.

He early evinced a hatred for the institution of slavery, and followed the leadership of Wendell Phillips, William Cullen Bryant, Horace Greeley, Joshua R. Giddings, John Brough and Ben Wade.

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, he became an outspoken abolitionist.

Between the years 1850 and 1860 his home became notorious as the hiding place of slaves who had escaped from their masters and were seeking freedom in Ohio, which state he had adopted as his home in 1839.

He was an ardent Whig until the birth of the Republican party when he became one of its charter members, advocating its doctrines and voting the ticket until his death.

The grave stone of his second wife

The last convention of that party held in Allen County he attended and was an active participant in its proceedings. He was married to Susanna O. Montz, the mother of his children in 1839.

After the death of his first wife in 1870, he married Elizabeth Whistler, who now at the age of 86 survives him.

Uncle Peter, as he was familiarly known, was a true patriot, a kind indulgent father, a good husband, universally esteemed by his neighbors. He leaves seven sons and two daughters and a large circle of friends who deeply feel his loss. He was a member of the Christian Church.

Thanks to additional information from Ray Mumma, 1965 Bluffton High School graduate a resident of Ada, we now have the correct photo of P.K. Mumma posted. We originally had Peter Mumma's photo posted. Peter was the father of P.K., who is featured in this Underground Railroad story.

From Ray Mumma, four generations from P.K. Mumma, we also have the following family information. P.K. Mumma and his wife, Susan Montz had 11 children:

William James Mumma

Susanne Orner Mumma

Joseph Montz Mumma

Isaiah Mumma

Zachariah Taylor Mumma

Eber Leslie Edward Mumma

Mary Elizabeth Mumma

Isaac Newton Mumma

Simon Gibson Mumma

Martha Lucretia Mumma

Roy Edwin Keller Mumma

Concerning Underground Railroad details, Ray provided the following:

When questioning my grandfather, Forest Mumma, about his grandfather Peter K. hiding slaves, he told me that his grandfather never talked about it, however he (Forest) , too, had asked his father, Joseph, about this.

Joseph knew that the slaves would be fed and would then slip away into the night, or on occasion they would be hid in a wagon, covered with a tarp and driven to a farm house between Mt. Cory and Findlay to continue their journey to Canada.

It was never mentioned who it was who picked up these slaves, but Joseph said it was probably someone with the same politics as P.K.


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