The Gamble Mill is not an Underground Railroad site, but is connected to its history!
While the Gamble Mill is not a documented "site" on the Underground Railroad (as it was built in 1893), the area is nonetheless connected to UGRR history because of William A. Thomas.
William A. Thomas is a name you may have already read on this tour because he donated the land for the A.M.E. Church. Thomas also sheltered the parents of Isaiah Welch when he was brought to Bellefonte as an infant. This stop of the tour brings you to the Gamble Mill area because Thomas once owned a mill on this very location (known then as the Thomas Mill) and lived in his home nearby (known as the "Wren's Nest"). He also owned a sawmill along the mill race, too. As you see in the writings of Mills below, William A. Thomas and his wife Eliza were active conductors on the Underground Railroad in Bellefonte. Their son, Jacob Valentine Thomas, aided in the UGRR at the Bellefonte Art Museum site, as well. William H. Mills made a point to speak about the Thomases in his history of the A.M.E. Church (Mills 1909):
“Dear reader, at this juncture I shall have to ask your pardon and kind indulgence for this digression, as I feel deeply impressed to speak of the humane character of Mr. Thomas, which I feel sure is yet unknown; especially to many of the young people of our race and generation. Mr. William A. Thomas, as I have mentioned, was a member of the Society of Friends and also a bitter opponent to human slavery, like hundreds of other grand and noble men and women identified with the same Society of Friends. So strong was the sympathy of Mr. Thomas and his estimable companion, Mrs. Eliza Thomas, toward the fugitive slaves that their own fine private residence often afforded a shelter and hiding place for many men, women and children fleeing from the cruel hand of slavery to a land of freedom" (Mills 1909, 4).
“One other special act of kindness of Mr. Thomas, which is a further proof of his sincere friendship to the men and women of our race, was the purchasing the freedom of Mr. John Williams, his wife, Mary Williams, and their son, Isaac. Uncle John, as he was called by every one who knew him, was an honest, upright man, of which the writer can attest… John Williams was employed by Mr. Thomas as a sawyer on the old mill that stood on the site of the present F. W. Crider mill, at the time his freedom was purchased by Mr. Thomas, and by his energy, thrift and economy succeeded in saving enough of his earnings to refund the purchase money to Mr. Thomas for his kind and friendly act” (Mills 1909, 4-5).
“Mr. Thomas deeded to the A.M.E. society the lot upon which the present church edifice has been erected, and which is to be retained by the A.M.E. church as long as religious services are conducted by them in this edifice” (Mills 1909, 4).
These are just a few examples of the role that the Thomases and other Quaker families played in the Underground Railroad in Centre County.
Linn, John B. History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1883.
Mills, William H. "A Brief History of the Origin and Organization of the A.M.E. Church of Bellefonte, Pa." 1909.
Walling, Henry Francis. Centre County Tilden Map: Bellefonte, Spring [Township]. 1861. Scale [1:3,960]. 20 rods to an inch. S.D. Tilden. https://digital.libraries.psu.edu/digital/collection/1861map/id/18/rec/2