This article was written by local historian Bernie Quigley, and provided by Neil Snarr. It is part of a series of articles celebrating Black History Month in Clinton County.
For almost 30 years in the 1800s, a thriving community of more than 200 African Americans was located in Clinton County, at the intersection of Point Isabell Road and State Route 72, in Survey No. 1023. The town of Point Isabell, as it was called, was founded on June 21, 1832 in Wayne Township by 32 slaves who were manumitted, or freed, by James Bray of Virginia.
Among the 32 platted plots in Point Isabell were a post office called Quinna Mill, a general store, a tannery, a tavern, a seamstress shop, a church, a cemetery, a mill and the first African-American school in Clinton County, built in 1851.
Between the founding of the village and 1860, 223 African Americans lived in Point Isabell, the flourishing settlement can be documented until the end of the Civil War, when it seemingly disappeared. The disappearance is possibly an effect of the Black Laws of Ohio no longer being enforced, creating more freedom of mobility for African Americans.
The roads from the village of Point Isabell connected with routes of the Underground Railroad and other locations. The two southern routes passed through the Gist, High Top, Hannsbourgh and Fallsville, all African-American settlements in Penn Township in Highland County, which was known as a station on the Underground Railroad.
East of Point Isabell is Fayette County was an African-American community known as Augustus West, named after a well-known black abolitionist. Continuing west from Point Isabell was a route to the residence of another well-known black abolitionist, Cyrus King, who lived on Antioch road. Two other abolitionists lived north of Point Isabell — Eli Oren of Port William and Thompson Douglas of Sabina.
It was from Point Isabell in the 1840s that Alexander Oren and Madison Frazier of Clinton County took 40 African Americans to Cass County, Michigan, where they were brought to Ishmael Lee’s house, a mile south of Cassopolis. A few days later, along with nine others, the 40 were taken to Canada on a train of the Underground Railroad, of which Zachariah Shugart, a known Quaker abolitionist, was conductor.