Underground Railroad Museum Is Recognized

Photo Provided John Mattox, left, founder and curator of the Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing, poses for a photo with Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, while holding the plaque he received at the Annual Appalachia Heritage Luncheon.

The Underground Railroad Museum in Flushing has a mission to help educate the public — and its founder was recently honored by Heritage Ohio for his work in fulfilling that mission.

John Mattox and his late wife Rosalind “Rozz” opened the museum in 1993, filling it with what Mattox calls “Americana”— memorabilia and other artifacts designed to help visitors learn about the history of the Underground Railroad in Ohio. Tours of the museum are expected to take several hours, during which visitors will hopefully come away with greater understanding of the area’s role in helping escaped slaves reach freedom in pre-Civil War days.

Mattox has always emphasized that the true purpose and value of the museum is leaving a legacy and learning tools for the younger visitors.

“The museum is a gift for the next generation,” Mattox said. “If we can teach and pass this on to the next generation, then it’s all worth it.”

Mattox was among several people honored at Heritage Ohio’s seventh-annual Appalachia Heritage Luncheon in Columbus, during which awards were given to businesses and people in the region for their work in community development and historic preservation.

Mattox was introduced by Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, whom he thanked — along with state Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction — for their support of the museum. He also thanked Reita A. Smith, Leslie Blankenship and Cathy D. Nelson — all members of the Friends of Freedom group, an organization is dedicated to Underground Railroad research for which Mattox serves as historian.

“I just want to recognize these people to show the museum is a collected work of all of us,” Mattox said. “We share our knowledge of abolitionists. It’s important we let the next generation learn of them.”