PENDLETON, Ind. — On Sept. 16, 1843, Frederick Douglass was in Pendleton, Ind., with a group from the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. He was to speak on abolition near Fall Creek when rioters marched forward and demanded they leave.
Armed with stones and brickbats, the men proceeded to assault the Douglass group until local supporters stepped in to protect them.
Residents and passers-by can now get a feel for where the incident happened with the new Indiana State Historical Marker commemorating Frederick Douglass at Falls Park.
On Sunday, the Historic Fall Creek Pendleton Settlement sponsored a dedication at the gazebo in Falls Park with speakers from multiple groups and about 25 in attendance. The marker sits across the bridge, overseeing the falls.
"I think it's about time," Pendleton resident Joe Kinnard, 95, said of the marker's arrival.
Board member Bob Post said the marker had been in the works for years and that Douglass' trip is an important piece of history that Pendleton and Madison County residents should know.
"It's some history we have to take into account," said James Burgess, president of Anderson's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
It is compelling to know that nationally-known Douglass was in Pendleton, in the north where slavery was outlawed, and still beaten. But also that he was protected by some of Pendleton's residents.
"I think it was a big thing for him to have come here (to Pendleton)," said Olivia Link, 10. She came out with her grandfather to hold signs that called Douglass an American hero.
Post said Douglass was the "most influential black man in the 1800s" - he was born a slave and went on to become an activist, orator, publisher and statesman - and developed "lifelong" friendships with some of the residents who took to his defense, coming back to Pendleton to visit twice after the incident.