Day Trips, Freedom Trail, History, Ohio, Road Trip, Underground Railroad, Underground Railroad/Civil War
Comments 4

Underground Railroad: Fee Villa


Fee Villa, pictured above, was a stop on the Underground Railroad in Moscow, Ohio. When it was safe for escaping slaves to enter, the residents would signal by placing a candle in the window.

Along the river are a lot of those little blink-and-you-miss-them towns. You know the kind that have a sign saying, “Welcome,” then 10 feet later one saying “Thank you for visiting.” They’re charming, usually hiding some kind of gem – either a great locally-owned shop or restaurant, or someone with a great life story. One thing you can count on is they always have a story to tell.

Moscow, Ohio is a little town like that. If you’re following US-52 – yep, that road again! – you don’t even have to blink to miss it. You’ll see signs for it once you get out of Point Pleasant, Ohio, but you have to turn off the main road to find it.

This teensy town registered 185 citizens in the 2010 census, down from the 244 who registered during the 2000 census. It was in the news about three years ago when tornadoes ripped through the area, taking out about 80 percent of the town and killing three people.

Go back about 150 years and the town was home to a distillery that made fruit brandies, and a glass factory. Today, there are some houses and a church or two. At the end of Water Street is a stately white house standing vigil over a long dock on the Ohio River.


Check out that eerie fog. That’s the Ohio River blending in with the sky there. Usually, its easy to see the opposite bank.

The house wasn’t hard to find, exactly, I just had a bit of trouble figuring out which street I was on. You would think with just a handful of streets it would be easy, which is what I think the village planner thought too because I didn’t think the streets were marked well.

I finally found the house – but only because I decided to drive down a street that ended in a boat ramp because I wanted to get some photos of the river covered in fog. I chickened out before getting to the ramp – I always feel like I’m going to drive straight into the river, even though I’m at least 200 feet from the shore – and when I turned my head to check my mirrors, I saw the small green sign to designate this house as part of the Clermont County Freedom Trail.

This large white house was once a beacon of freedom for people crossing the river. I stood on the bank of the river below the house and tried to imagine what it would be like to get across that river. Its wide and with the heavy fog the morning I was there, I couldn’t even see the other bank. The river and its swift current dwarfed the dock beneath the home.


More eerie photos. I can’t help but love the fog!

The place is Fee Villa, formerly inhabited by Thomas Fee, Jr., a noted abolitionist. When it was safe for escaping slaves to enter, Fee would place a candle in the window of the house. That candle in the window is still used in Moscow’s village logo today.

The Fees would feed, clothe the people they helped, and then transported them along the railroad to Felicity, Ohio.

A few blocks away is an open site where the home of Robert E. Fee once stood.  Fee fought to get back the freedom of a woman and her children who were kidnapped and then sold into slavery. He was unsuccessful, but dedicated his life to helping slaves escape. He was indicted by Pendleton County for slave stealing, but Ohio refused to extradite him to Kentucky to stand trial.

If you want to keep following the Freedom Trail in Clermont County, Ohio, there a many more places to visit. Check out their brochure of Underground Railroad locations, and keep checking back here. I’ll keep visiting them throughout the summer!


  1. Nancy Fee says

    Hi, Cassie,

    This was so great a find for my brother, Tom, and me!. Yesterday, Tom and I had lunch with a 2nd cousin we were meeting for the first time because of an Ancestry connection. Of course we discussed common ancestors. I had known that some abolitionists in the Felicity and Moscow areas shared a common ancestor with me. Even though it isn’t a direct line, it is so interesting to start to put together timelines and see where my Great and great-greats were around that time and how close the relationship was. Your link was pretty special as it talks about the Fee’s and their contribution to the underground railroads of that time. I never think a descendant can take credit or blame for an ancestor, but we can be proud of the lives those good people led.

    So… I hope that you are doing well, and wanted you to know the pleasure that your information brought my family including the cousins that received the link in emails from Tom.

    • Hi Nancy – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post! I know what you mean when you talk about digging into family history and making connections. It’s fascinating stuff. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you are well!

  2. Billie Richards says

    Hi I grew up in Moscow Ohio. I remember playing in the Fee Villa yard. My brothers, friends, and I sworn that that house was and is haunted. There is one great hidden secret that I guess you wasn’t told about. Not the backside but the left side there is a well. It was made of big rocks, but almost on the right side of the well there was stone steps. They didn’t go to deep, just enough to hide a small group of runaways. Seeing your picture brought back great memories.
    One last thing, it has nothing to with the Underground Railroad, but around 1980-83 that picture of the boat ramp they pull a yellow car out of the river right there. If I remember right (I was only 6-7), five bodies were in the car and only 2 of them were adults. Like I said I was very young.

    • I’m sorry I didn’t see this comment sooner – those are some interesting facts! I have some time on my hands now (thanks, COVID haha) … I wonder if I can dig up any more information about that car pulled out of the river? Thank you for sharing your memories! I hope you are well.

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