Kelton House Museum and Garden, 586 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215, 614-464-2022; A Service of the Junior League of Columbus, Inc. Kelton House Museum and Garden: The front door with its 1852 American flag and wrought-iron balcony above the front door. Kelton House Museum: Docent in 19th century dress leads a tour of elementary school students. Kelton House Museum and Garden: Close-up of the Historic Underground Railroad Site marker. Kelton House Museum: Three elementary school students enjoy 19th century hat, doll, and stereoscope.


“Martha’s Journey” . . . A Living History Drama

Kelton House Museum: Scene from "Martha's Journey," the dramatization of 10-year-old Martha Hartway's arrival at Kelton House as a fugitive slave in 1864.
Initial capital letter M in Duc De Berry typeface.
artha's Journey . . .
A Living History Portrayal
The story of the Underground Railroad at the Kelton House lends itself naturally to a living history portrayal aimed at the third and fourth grade levels. Students of this age can identify with Martha Hartway, who was 10 at the time she came to the Kelton House along with her sister Pearl. The drama incorporates elements in the living history that match specific requirements of the Ohio History proficiency test for these grades while telling the story of the Underground Railroad secret at Kelton House.

Initial capital letter T in Duc De Berry typeface.

he living history drama takes place in the Kelton House Underground Railroad Learning Station
, which has been designed to represent a hiding place for fugitives. Five actors of the drama will portray actual people involved in the historic incident — Martha Hartway, her sister Pearl (age 13), and the Kelton family children who developed a close and lifelong friendship with Martha. When Martha and Pearl arrived at the Kelton House, Ella Kelton was 16, Arthur was 12, and Frank was 9.

The action focuses on the children so that third and fourth graders can more readily identify with the events as they unfold. Adults figure in the events, but remain “off-stage” with only their voices or references to them heard. The dialogue involves a description of the journey provided by Martha and Pearl in response to the eager questions of the Kelton children.

“Martha’s Journey” answers these questions: What was it like to travel the Underground Railroad? What would you eat? How would you keep warm? Whom could you trust? What was the Fugitive Slave Law? What would happen to you if you were caught? The dialogue explores the Underground Railroad from the point of view of children, both the fugitives who traveled it and the children of agents and stationmasters.

The primary focus of the living history presentation is to create an environment where students will hear, taste, smell, and feel the danger involved for both the fugitives and those aiding them. This is underscored by Pearl's decision to leave Columbus and travel farther north. “Martha’s Journey” concludes with an opportunity for interactive discussion concerning the action and the issues presented.

To make a reservation for “Martha’s Journey,” please call Kelton House Underground Railroad Educational Coordinator Mary Oellermann at (614) 464-2022 or email us at keltonhouse@cs.com.

Other Dramas
Depending on the day of your visit, your students may see “Martha’s Journey” or another first-person interpretation of the struggle to escape slavery and reach freedom.



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