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Book chronicles tales of Underground Rail

The local author who wrote three books about Guelph’s history related to the Mafia has turned his attention to the “underground railroad” that allowed American slaves to escape to Canada before the U.S. Civil War.
Jerry Prager, formerly of Guelph and now living in Elora, has just published Laying the Bed: The Native Origins Of The Underground Railroad.
Prager was asked to work on the history of blacks in Guelph and Wellington County by Wayne Smythe, the man who made the offer to purchase the Guelph British Methodist Episcopal Church at 83 Essex St. in the fall of 2011, a news release said.
The new book looks at the role played by Native people in guiding slave fugitives up the Grand River. It’s the first volume in a planned series of books about how African Americans came to live in Guelph and Wellington County.
“The stories are certain to transform discussions within the Underground Railroad community on both sides of the border,” the release said. “The topic will also be of interest to those who either already know or who want to understand the roots of Idle No More and its struggles for treaty rights.”
The book is “also the story of North American Christianity’s finest hour, from the days when abolitionists were called terrorists by slave-owners; days when schism divided every church but one, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, precursor of the B.M.E., its Canadian offspring,” the release said.
“The book also gives credit where it is due; i.e., to Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists and above all to the Hicksite Quakers, creators of the Underground Railroad.”
The book will be sold at bookstores as well as online at:

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