SOUTH WHITLEY — “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sarah Cuppy, a local historical hero, took these words of wisdom to heart nearly 100 years before Martin Luther King Jr. spoke them.
She is known in the South Whitley area as one who tirelessly worked to save slaves, soldiers and orphaned children.
Sarah’s husband, Indiana Senator Abraham Cuppy, built the Cuppy House in 1837 as a replica of their Kentucky home. Constructed without a single nail, the Cuppy House still stands today and is a marker of sturdy craftsmanship.
Wooden pins and interlocking joists hold together the house with hardwood floors, beams made of bark-stripped whole tree trunks, and a unique staircase and railing with more than 50 hand-cut spindles.
Originally, the home was built on more than 572 acres that included the crossroads of Ind. 5, 14 and 105. Many locals still call this intersection “Cuppy’s Corners,” though the origins of the name are oft long-forgotten.
Abraham passed away at the age of 36, leaving Sarah to raise their four children. Soon after that, she gained her brother’s five children when he and his wife passed. When another sister-in-law died, Sarah took in her three children also, bringing her total to 12.
Three years later, in light of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the beginning of the Underground Railroad, Cuppy opened her home as a stop for escaped slaves as they made their way to freedom in Canada. Despite reports of an active Ku Klux Klan branch very nearby, Cuppy and her family remained unshaken in their values.
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