David Lukens and the Underground Railroad

I recently came across the obituary for Sarah Lukens Woolman in the Trenton Times of December 8, 1903, which noted that “She was the widow of Samuel Woolman of Fallsington and daughter of David Lukens, whose farm near Morrisville was a station of the underground railroad in slavery days.”

The Underground Railroad, of course, was the loosely organized network of safe havens with no clearly defined routes by which fugitive slaves made their way to the free states and Canada. Secreted away in homes and barns in their journies to freedom, it became a risky endeavor for abolitionists after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 which made it a Federal crime to aid those escaping the brutal conditions of slavery.

David Lukens was born at Horsham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, on March 10, 1793; married Eliza Woolman at the Rancocas Meeting, Burlington County, New Jersey, on November 13, 1817; and died at Morrisville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on February 14, 1869.

Gravemarkers for Eliza (left) and David Lukens.
His obituary in the Bucks County Intelligencer of February 23, 1869, provides the account of his passing:

“David Lukens, an old and respected citizen of Morrisville, aged about 75 years, died very suddenly on Sunday evening week. During the day, he was in his usual health, and about five o’clock he went over to Trenton in company with some friends who had been spending the day with him. On returning to Morrisville, he went to the stable and put up his horse, but not returning to the house for a considerable time the family became alarmed, and one of his daughters went to see what had become of him, and found him lying upon the barn floor unable to move. By the aid of his daughter he was got to the house, where he soon after expired on the lounge in the arms of his wife. Medical aid was promptly summoned, but to no effect. The cause of his sudden death was heart disease.”

He and his wife Eliza, their graves marked by modest stones, are interred in the Friends’ Plot.