A conductor on the Underground Railroad
Born on his father’s farm on Rolling Road on the 25th of January in the year 1798, Nicholas Smith was a white man who helped hide and transport enslaved runaways. He was the son of Lakin Smith and Ann Dunn. By profession, Smith was a freight hauler, a person who moved goods and products, and a cooper, a person who repaired and made casks and barrels. This profession helped him obtain access to the materials and tools he needed as a conductor of the Underground Railroad. Together with his abolitionist wife Elizabeth Zimmerman Smith, his wife’s sister Susanna Zimmerman Emmart, and Susanna’s husband Caleb Emmart, he worked helped enslaved Blacks gain freedom. The Emmarts and Smiths worked hand-in-hand to free the enslaved and made a change in the county.
According to a 2001 Baltimore Sun article, halfway through the 19th century, Smith bought property on both sides of Featherbed Lane at a cost of about $5 per acre. On this same property, he owned a house that then became an Underground Railroad location. Before being unfortunately destroyed, there also stood a log-and-stone building that was once a part of Smith’s home. As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Smith safely led enslaved runaways from station to station. Using his cooper’s shop, Smith also hid enslaved runaways in barrels and transported them without being caught. Because Smith and Joshua Meekins, his son-in-law, were so cautious, not many knew of their secret endeavors until the latter half of the 1900s.
On October 6, 1873, at the age of 75, Smith passed away leaving his land to be divided among his 11 children. Buried in the Smith family graveyard, his burial site can be found in a forest area behind a private home near the Nasam and Rona Roads, just a short walk from the south of Windsor Mill Road.