Historical Markers
Freedom Road Cemetery Historical Marker
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Freedom Road Cemetery

Valleys of the Susquehanna


Marker Location:
T-456 in Loyalsock Township

Dedication Date:
May 15, 1993

Behind the Marker

Daniel Hughes was an integral part of the underground network in central Pennsylvania, utilizing his lumber barge to transport runaways and guiding them safely into New York.
Daniel Hughes, circa 1870.
According to local tradition, Daniel Hughes was part Native American and part African-American, but the exact details of his ancestry are somewhat mysterious. We do know that he married an African-American woman named Annie Rotch or Roach and that they couple had many children, reportedly at least thirteen sons.

We know that he carried lumber on a small barge from Havre de Grace in Maryland to Williamsport, Lycoming County. It was on this barge that he hid runaway slaves. Exactly how many enslaved African Americans he helped escape along this route is impossible to verify, but local accounts suggest that he assisted more than 1,000 runaways.

To some in the region, Hughes stands almost bigger than life. Local newspapers have described him as approximately 6 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing close to 300 pounds. He is often labeled a full-blooded Indian Chief, of the Mohawk or Muncie tribes, but these claims are difficult to substantiate.

The rise of an Afro-Indian heritage is an important but often overlooked element of American cultural history. Before the Civil War, people generally used the term "mustee" to describe those of mixed African and Native American ancestries. Across the United States, especially in the Southeast,  former slaves and Indians lived in isolated mustee communities.
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