The People: John Hunn

Portrait of John Hunn
Portrait of John Hunn

Born in 1818, John Hunn was a Quaker abolitionist and stationmaster in the Delaware Underground Railroad network. In 1845, he assisted the Hawkins family in their escape by giving them food and shelter. This was the first time Hunn directly helped runaways.

In the federal court trials of 1848, John Hunn, along with Thomas Garrett, were found guilty of aiding and harboring the Hawkins family. Both men were heavily fined and lost their businesses and personal properties to pay that debt. In the early 1850s, Hunn and his family moved to the Camden, Delaware area and he continued his Underground Railroad activities.

During the Civil War, Hunn and his family moved to the Port Royal, South Carolina area to work among the newly freed African Americans there. In the 1870s, as the period of Radical Reconstruction was ending, the Hunn children, now adults, returned north. In 1875, John Hunn Jr. moved to Wyoming, Delaware to start a family with his new wife, Sallie Emerson. Daughters, Hannah Hunn and Elizabeth Hunn Judd were teachers at the Penn School from 1865 until 1876, when they moved to Philadelphia.

John Hunn Sr. stayed in South Carolina until his health failed in 1893. He and his wife Anna moved to Wyoming, Delaware to live with their son’s family. The elder John Hunn died in 1894 and was buried in Camden, Delaware Friends Meeting Cemetery. John Hunn Jr. served as governor of Delaware from 1901 to 1905.

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