Many slaves came to Michigan from Kentucky. Many who made it to the North worked to help other slaves escape through the Underground Railroad. The routes they took were kept secret. Escaping slaves, or fugitives, traveled by foot, horse, train or even fancy carriages.
Did the Underground Railroad go through Michigan?
There are at least seven known paths that led freedom seekers from various points in Michigan to the Canadian shore and it is estimated that 200 Underground Railroad stops existed throughout Michigan between the 1820s and 1865.
Were there slaves in Michigan?
1787. The Northwest Ordinance makes slavery illegal its territories and states. Although Michigan is part of the Northwest Territory, there are enslaved people living in Michigan until 1837.
Where is the Underground Railroad in Michigan?
Cassopolis and Vandalia are two small towns in southwestern Michigan, not far from the Indiana border. These towns are some of the first stops in Michigan escaped slaves stopped at if they traveled north through Indiana. Many of Michigan’s Underground Railroad stationmasters in southwestern Michigan were Quakers.
What cities played a major role in the Underground Railroad?
The cities of Buffalo, Rochester and their surrounding areas helped to play a leading role in the Underground Railroad movement.
Why was Detroit an important stop on the Underground Railroad?
Detroit’s unique geographical location, coupled with its radicalized black community and abolitionist sympathizers made the city a prime crossing location for freedom seekers. Code named “Midnight” by Underground Railroad “conductors,” the city provided access to Canada across the Detroit River.
Did the Underground Railroad go through Grand Rapids Michigan?
The underground steam system has been in continuous use in Grand Rapids since the original system began in 1897.
Was Michigan a Confederate state?
Michigan made a substantial contribution to the Union during the American Civil War. While the state itself was far removed from the combat theaters of the war, Michigan supplied many troops and several generals, including George Armstrong Custer.
Was Michigan a free state during slavery?
The territory was generally settled by New Englanders and American Revolutionary War veterans granted land there. The 6 states created from the territory were all free states: Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), Illinois (1818), Michigan ( 1837 ), Wisconsin (1848), and Minnesota (1858).
Who owned slaves in Detroit?
Detroit’s first mayor, John R. Williams, the namesake of two streets in Detroit – John R and Williams – owned slaves.
What states did the Underground Railroad go through?
These were called “stations,” “safe houses,” and “depots.” The people operating them were called “stationmasters.” There were many well-used routes stretching west through Ohio to Indiana and Iowa. Others headed north through Pennsylvania and into New England or through Detroit on their way to Canada.
Who was Seymour Finney?
Seymour Finney, a business owner and Underground Railroad stationmaster, was born in Orange County, New York, where he worked as a tailor. He moved to Detroit in 1834, where he became an active supporter of the abolitionist movement in the area.
What happened to Cesar in the Underground Railroad?
While the show doesn’t show us what happens after their encounter, Caesar comes to Cora in a dream later, confirming to viewers that he was killed. In the novel, Caesar faces a similar fate of being killed following his capture, though instead of Ridgeway and Homer, he is killed by an angry mob.
Does the Underground Railroad still exist?
It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman. Ashtabula County had over thirty known Underground Railroad stations, or safehouses, and many more conductors. Nearly two-thirds of those sites still stand today.
Who is the leader of the Underground Railroad?
Harriet Tubman (1822-1913), a renowned leader in the Underground Railroad movement, established the Home for the Aged in 1908. Born into slavery in Dorchester County, Maryland, Tubman gained her freedom in 1849 when she escaped to Philadelphia.
The Underground Railroad was a hidden network of financial, spiritual, and material assistance for previously enslaved individuals on their journey from plantations in the American South to freedom in Canada that operated from the early 1800s to 1865. Freedom seekers traveled from one town to another on foot, sometimes at night, in order to avoid being apprehended. When they arrived, they were greeted by sympathizers known as “conductors” or “stockholders,” who helped them get settled. Conductors from all walks of life endangered their livelihoods for the sake of human freedom by concealing slaves in their homes, barns, attics, cellars, churches, stores, and sheds, as well as in other places.
They also made it easier to move to the next “stop,” which was an Underground Railroad refuge.
The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 assured that even if “runaway” slaves managed to make their way into free states in the North, they could be apprehended and returned to their owners under certain conditions.
Secrecy was required since, under the same Act, people discovered to be assisting with freedom seekers may face severe fines and possibly imprisonment if they were found to be in the Northern states.
- Seymour Finney was a well-known Underground Railroad conductor in the Detroit area.
- George DeBaptiste was a prominent abolitionist who was a part of the Detroit abolitionist network.
- An established businessman and community leader in Detroit, he managed a barbershop and bakery before acquiring the steamer T.
- The African-American Mysteries or the Order of the Men of Oppression, which DeBaptiste founded, collaborated with the Underground Railroad in Detroit and was known as the Order of the Men of Oppression.
- The congregation was originally located on Fort Street, but in 1857 it relocated to its current location in Greektown.
- Second Baptist Church collaborated with abolitionist pioneers like as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and John Brown, among others.
- Because it was typically the last destination on the Underground Railroad before attaining freedom, Detroit was one of the most important sites on the Underground Railroad.
It is believed that 200 Underground Railroad stations occurred throughout Michigan between the 1820s and 1865. The Underground Railroad came to an end in 1865, following the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.
RELATED ITEMS IN THE COLLECTION
View all of the objects that are associated with the Underground Railroad.
Underground Railroad in Kalamazoo — Kalamazoo Public Library
During the mid-1800s, more than three million African-Americans were held as slaves in the Southern United States, according to historical records. Human rights were severely restricted for them, and they were frequently purchased and sold at auction. Families were ripped apart, never to be joined again after the war. Thousands of slaves were born into this gloomy destiny as they fled north to avoid being forced into servitude. Along what became known as the Underground Railroad, they made their way from slavery to freedom in secret.
Webber’s “The Underground Railroad” was published in 1893.
This ‘railroad’ did not consist of rails or steam engines, but rather of people.
Between these checkpoints, the fugitives travelled discreetly, generally at night, on foot, by wagon, and even by boat, depending on their destination.
In the early history of Kalamazoo County, the advanced philosophy and liberality of New England can plainly be seen, as seen by the large number of persons who moved here from that part of the country and acquired the detested label of abolitionists. While the early history of most of Kalamazoo’s churches demonstrates a strong anti-slavery sentiment and resistance to slavery, there were still segments of our early immigrants who were outspoken supporters of the institution. Our region mirrored the divergent points of view that eventually pushed our country into the Civil War.
Henry Montague was a British politician who was born in the town of Montague in the county of Suffolk in the United Kingdom. The Underground Railroad was never the nonstop stream of people that many people believe it to have been at one point in time. It was in operation for a total of 20 years, during which time the number of slaves housed here was estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,500, or an average of less than one slave per week. However, it meant that those large numbers of individuals were able to achieve freedom through Kalamazoo County, and the railroad would have been worth the effort even if it had only been for one of those people.
Two men stand out as early enablers of the railroad: Thomas Edison and John D. Rockefeller. Dr. Nathan M. Thomas, the first practicing physician in this area, established his practice in Prairie Ronde in 1830. He was the county’s first active outspoken abolitionist, and he was also the first to speak out against slavery. Another was Henry Montague, who lived in the 17th century. He began his abolitionist career in Massachusetts before relocating to New York in 1836 to continue his work. The abolitionist settled in Oshtemo and was a delegate to the state’s first abolitionist convention, which took place in Ann Arbor in 1848.
They were a guy and his wife who had fled in Alabama and were making their way up the Mississippi River.
They were handed over to Hugh M. Shafter at that point. In Kalamazoo County, this marked the beginning of the Underground Railroad. The Dr. Nathan M. Thomas House in Schoolcraft is a well-known station on the Underground Railroad, according to local legend.
Dr. Nathan M. Thomas is a physician who practices in the United States. Dr. Thomas’ residence in Schoolcraft was one of the most significant stations on the ‘underground railroad,’ which had multiple stops across Michigan. Routes via Schoolcraft, Battle Creek, Marshall, Jackson, and Detroit were commonly used to get to this halting place from other locations. Michigan was crossed by a number of other roads. There were seven routes that were the most often used. The routes were as follows: Toledo to Detroit; Toledo to Adrian to Detroit; St.
Dr. Thomas’ home in this neighborhood was often where the black fugitives would be rushed inside for a dinner made by Mrs. Thomas, who would arrive about daybreak on a cart in this neighborhood. Then they were brought to the attic where they would have to wait until dusk. After being fed once again, they boarded Thomas’ wagon, which was covered with straw before being taken to another’station,’ which was most likely Battle Creek in Michigan. It was hazardous employment since the fugitives were frequently pursued by slave hunters hired to bring them back to the southern United States.
This group of slave hunters offered some frightening moments, such as the time a slave was concealed in the bottom of an apple box and then covered with apples. When the slave hunters searched the home and were unable to locate anyone, they ended up near the container and made remarks about how delicious the apples were. As a result, the slave hunters each stole a couple apples from the owner of the house, who conceded that they were in fact nice apples.
Notable Mention, Michigan and Beyond
These slave hunters offered some scary moments, such as the time a slave was placed in the bottom of a container and then covered with apples, according to the story. The slave hunters came across a crate of apples after searching the home and failing to locate anyone. They commented on how delicious the apples were. The owner of the home admitted that they were, in fact, good apples, and the slave hunters each took a handful before fleeing the premises.
In the play “Henry Montague,” Henry Montague is the main character. David Fisher and Frank Little are the editors of this volume. A. W. Bowen & Company, 1906H 977.417 F53, Chicago
Nathan M. Thomas: Birthright Member of the Society of Friends, Pioneer Physician, Early and Earnest Advocate of the Abolition of Slavery, Friend and Helper of the Fugitive Slave
Nathan M. Thomas, Cassopolis, MI: Stanton B. Thomas, 1925H 921 T459; Thomas, Nathan M.
African Americans in Michigan
Walker, Lewis, and colleaguesEast Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2001H 977.400496 W1818 Walker, Lewis, and colleagues
The Rural Black Heritage between Chicago and Detroit, 1850-1929: a photograph album and random thoughts
Wilson, Benjamin C.Kalamazoo, MI: New Issues Press, 1985H 973.0496 W7468 Wilson, Benjamin C.Kalamazoo, MI: New Issues Press, 1985H 973.0496 W7468
Underground Railroad is the subject of this file. The Underground Railroad File (also known as the Orange Dot File)
VANDALIA, MICH. — The town of Vandalia is located in the state of Michigan. Despite the fact that it only takes two hours to drive from Chicago to this hamlet in Cass County, the trek through countryside and tiny villages in Southwest Michigan finishes in a place that is rich in historical significance. The majority of visitors to Vandalia and the surrounding towns of Cassopolis and Dowagiac now come to take advantage of the area’s more than 100 lakes. Less well-known is the Underground Railroad’s legacy in the region, which assisted nearly 2,000 freedom seekers passing through Michigan — many of whom were en route to Canada — on the secret network’s Quaker and Illinois “lines” more than 150 years ago on the secret network’s Quaker and Illinois “lines.” A number of the area’s safe homes and landmarks have been demolished or gone into ruin, and the records of individuals who went through have been destroyed, making the chance to retrace the steps of people attempting to flee slavery all the more important.
- In partnership with the community of Vandalia, the all-volunteer Underground Railroad Society of Cass County has co-sponsored a three-day celebration to increase awareness of the region’s participation in the abolitionist struggle for the past eight years.
- The festival will include guided tours of several historic sites, a soul food dinner ($10), a living history portrayal of the role Michigan’s 102nd United States Colored Troops regiment played during the Civil War, as well as music, vendors, and other activities.
- Parking, entry, and tours are all complimentary; see www.villageofvandaliami.com.
- Bonineas well as the carriage house across the street serve as focal points for the tour and the history of the Underground Railroad in the surrounding area.
- The town of Vandalia has been home to his Quaker family since the 1820s, so “that’s not uncommon,” Mike Smith said.
- Ramptown, a 33-acre tract of property just outside of downtown Vandalia that was called after the wild leeks (ramps) that flourished there, is another important Underground Railroad stop.
- Bonine was the first African-American to homestead on the site.
Today, Ramptown is a field with a historical plaque, and the only tangible proof of its existence is in the form of objects excavated from the site and oral memories from local residents.
“There used to be an entire town there,” Smith recalls his grandfather saying.
Chain Lake Baptist Church, located near Cassopolis, is another Underground Railroad historical site.
The one-room Brownsville School, which was located in Cassopolis but is now on private land, was in operation from roughly 1850 until 1957.
There is a good chance that the Cass County Courthouse is the most well-known Underground Railroad-related landmark in the area.
The action is referred to as the 1847 Kentucky Raid, and it is largely acknowledged as a contributing reason to the outbreak of the American Civil War in the following year.
Maps of a driving tour of all 19 historic Underground Railroad monuments will be available at the Bonine House and Milo Barnes Park in Vandalia during the event, or they may be downloaded from the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County’s website,urscc.org.
Paul Lawson, 71, is a seventh-generation descendant of slave Zebedee Sanders, whose Virginia master released him and 50 other slaves when he died, according to his family tree.
In 1850, Zebedee and his extended family packed up their belongings and traveled to Vandalia, Illinois.
The remainder of the Sanders family settled in the area and established solid roots.
“People of color and people of color Everyone works together for the common welfare of the community, and “Lawson expressed himself.
When you’ve finished seeing the historic Underground Railroad sites in Cass County, shift your attention to more contemporary gems from the mid-twentieth century: Sinclair Station is a station in the city of Sinclair, in the county of Sinclair.
There’s also a green dinosaur on the roof, a sign promoting S H Green Stamps, an old bell hose, and some old petrol pumps that have been renovated to seem like they’re brand new.
Vintage boats are on exhibit and for sale in plenty at Mahogany Outfitters, a former auto dealership that has been transformed into an outdoor boat show.
Located at 980 E.
in Cassopolis, and online at mahoganyoutfitters.com and lakeviewdinercass, the bread is freshly baked, and the soups are handmade.
Caruso’s Candy and Soda Shop: This antique ice cream shop retains its original appearance from when it originally opened its doors in 1922. Caruso’s Candys is located at 130 S. Front St. in Dowagiac and serves hand-dipped sodas, sundaes, and shakes. For more information, visit carusoscandys.com.
Detroit’s Decisive Role in the Underground Railroad
The “Gateway to Freedom”|Photo courtesy of Eugene Kim on Flickr During the late 18th and early to mid-19th centuries, a network of persons, secret passageways, and safe houses developed in the United States to facilitate the escape of African-American slaves to the northern hemisphere. Following the passage of legislation forcing free states such as Michigan to report and help in the capture of fugitives, Detroit’s strategic location as a gateway to Canada strengthened its prominence in the network, giving it the nickname “Doorway to Freedom.” Wilbur H.
However, once Florida was recognized as a United States possession in 1821, traveling north became the most viable alternative for achieving freedom, which necessitated the construction of what would become known as the Underground Railroad.
Despite the fact that it was not a true underground railroad, the network employed railroad terminology, such as referring to meeting sites as “stations,” persons who assisted slaves as “conductors,” and slaves as “cargo.” As a result of the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, fugitives pursued and arrested in free states were transported back to the South, making it even more critical for them to flee the United States entirely.
- Despite the fact that exact statistics are hard to determine, it is thought that between 30,000 and 100,000 persons crossed the border into Canada on the railroad.
- Because of its strategic position as well as its stubborn population, Detroit became a vital element of the railroad system.
- A substantial black population coexisted with a considerable number of abolitionists who, despite the fact that the Act of 1850 made it illegal to help persons leaving slavery, played an active role in the abolitionist movement.
- Whitney to transfer hundreds of slaves to the province of Ontario.
- The First Congregational Church of Detroit was another important station in the city, and Seymour Finney was another well-known conductor, having taken in a large number of runaways at his hotel and stables in the city’s downtown area.
- Nathan Thomas was an influential figure outside of the city, serving as a conduit for up to 1,500 slaves on their journey to Detroit and eventual freedom over a 20-year period in western Michigan.
In addition to Elizabeth Chandler, who founded the Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society in Lenawee County, another important station about 60 miles (96.5 kilometers) southwest of Detroit, there were many other notable figures.
The Underground Railroad
The Underground Railroad was not a legitimate railroad in the traditional sense. It was a network of people, both black and white, who assisted enslaved people, people who were compelled to do labor and services against their will, people who were escaping from their enslavers, and those who enslaved someone else. This network was known as “Underground” because it was top secret, and it was known as “Railroad” because terminology such as “conductor” and “depot” were used as codes to identify helpers and safe havens on the network.
- A large number of fugitives fled to the northern United States and Canada, where they could live in relative freedom.
- Escaping was extremely perilous.
- They were well aware that the consequences of being caught would be severe.
- It was also extremely perilous to travel north.
- They primarily went on foot, although they sometimes traveled by horse, rail, and even elegant carriages on occasion.
- Southern Michigan was home to a number of communities that were part of the Underground Railroad.
- Depots were the names given to the hiding spots.
- Some of the fugitives were apprehended in Canada.
- When fugitives made it to the United States, they frequently volunteered to assist other enslaved persons who were attempting to flee through the Underground Railroad.
This is a picture of a handbill, which is a printed advertisement that is distributed by hand. What is the purpose of the advertisement? A handbill from 1853 requesting that people contribute farm implements to previously enslaved persons.
What Did I Learn?
Make a list of three interesting facts you learnt from the tale.
Identify a question (or questions, if you have more than one) that the tale did not satisfactorily address.
Explore the Underground Railroad in Jackson, Michigan
Identify a question (or questions, if you have more than one) that the tale did not satisfactorily resolve.
The property is located on Austin Road in Norvell Township. The Underground Railroad agent Royal Watkins erected this brick Italianate residence in the early 1860s, and it is now privately held. In this location, a violent encounter between Watkins and members of a Kentucky posse took place (see image below).
Jacksonburg Public Square Historic Plaque
Located near the junction of W.
Michigan Avenue and Jackson Street in Detroit, Michigan. It was in this location that several historic buildings were grouped together, including Jackson’s first newspaper, which was started by at least two Underground Railroad agents.
Jackson’s Train Station
At least two fugitives fleeing southern posses used this location, which is located at 501 E. Mich. Ave., as their point of departure (see image below).
The First Congregational Church
Located at 120 N. Jackson St. in New York City. This Romanesque revival church was created by an agent of the Underground Railroad, and several of the deacons were also agents of the Underground Railroad.
Under the Oaks Park
At the corner of Franklin and Second Streets, this establishment is located. This City Park commemorates the site of the 1854 convention that served as the official launchpad for the Republican Party. Several agents worked together to organize and attend this meeting (see image below).
Locally known as Devereaux Road and Gibbs Road, Parma Township is home to this establishment. This bronze plaque marks the location of an active Underground Railroad colony that was established in the early 1900s (see image below). MICHIGAN’S CROSSROADS TO FREEDOM: THE UNDERGROUND ROAD IN JACKSON COUNTY provides a thorough account of Jackson’s participation in the Underground Railroad. The book is available for purchase both online and at the Ella Sharp Museum Gift Shop in New York City. More information may be found here.
Biographical Information about the Author: Linda Hass is a passionate supporter of local history.
Detroit’s Underground Railroad History & Historical Sites
You’ve arrived in Detroit, a city that stands out as a beacon of optimism and freedom on a global scale unlike any other. If that doesn’t seem like the Detroit you’re familiar with, how about the fact that more than 50,000 individuals — enough to fill Ford Field – escaped slavery and went to Detroit via the Underground Railroad during the Civil War? The Underground Railroad was a network of passageways that ran throughout the United States and eventually to Canada, where slavery was abolished and everyone was afforded equal protection under the laws.
Because of its near proximity to Canada, Detroit’s “stations” (or hiding sites) were critical stops on the road to escape for the Underground Railroad.
Why was the Underground Railroad important?
Human ownership was lawful in the United States until 1865, more than a century after the country was founded on the values of freedom and equality. Africans were enslaved by Europeans and subjected to the Triangular Trade, which consisted of traffickers transporting captives from Africa to the Americas and Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. African slaves were compelled to reside on their owner’s land in order to cultivate or offer other services such as weaving, cleaning, and masonry without recompense or the opportunity to leave their owners’ land.
This was the genesis of the Civil Battle, which has been referred to as “the war against one’s own neighbor.” In order to assist slaves in escaping the horrors of their situation in the southern United States and escaping to freedom in the northern United States and Canada, the Underground Railroad was established.
How did the Underground Railroad Work?
Even though the United States was founded on the values of freedom and equality, it was not lawful to own humans until 1865, more than a century after the country was established on those principles. Human enslavement by Europeans occurred during the Triangular Trade, which involved traders transporting captives from Africa to the Americas and Europe. Afro-American slaves were obliged to reside on their owner’s land in order to cultivate or offer other services such as weaving, cleaning, and building, with no recompense or the ability to flee.
Essentially, this was the genesis of the Civil Battle, which has been referred to as “the war against thine own neighbor.” In order to aid slaves in escaping the horrors of their situation in the southern United States and escaping to freedom in the northern United States and Canada, the Underground Railroad was established.
Next Stop: Midnight
For so many people who were brought or were born in this country under the oppression of slavery, Detroit represented a beacon of hope for a better future. In those days, Detroit was referred to as Midnight, and it was the penultimate destination before reaching Canada, which had abolished slavery. Michigan has played a significant role in that tradition, and Detroit is the personification of freedom’s unbroken spirit of determination. This, I believe, opens up fresh perspectives on the essence of our city’s Spirit of Detroit.
Underground Railroad Historical Sites in Detroit
The city of Detroit still has a number of historical landmarks where you may practically stand in the places where fugitive slaves persevered in their efforts to gain freedom. Located in Hart Plaza, this statue, which overlooks the Detroit River and is unquestionably an international emblem of freedom, is unquestionably a national and worldwide symbol of freedom. Behind the monument, you can see youngsters waving and asking for more to join them as a conductor leads them to safety. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (also known as Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church): It was founded in 1839 as the Colored Methodist Society and played an important role in the Underground Railroad at both of its early locations.
- Antoine St.
- Second Baptist Church: Croghan Street Station is located in the basement of Second Baptist Church, which is located in what is now Detroit’s Greektown district.
- William C.
- Approximately 5,000 fugitive slaves took shelter in this subterranean hiding place.
- Workers uncovered a tunnel beneath the river that had been utilized in the Underground Railroad when the church was moved in 1955 to make space for a new civic center.
- The Residence of George DeBaptiste: This entrepreneur and politician, who was born a free man, assisted former slaves in their escape to freedom over the river from Detroit to Canada.
- Despite the fact that his house is no longer extant, the location is noted at the intersection of East Larned and Beaubien street.
- The Finney Hotel, which originally stood on the southeast intersection of Woodward and Griswold streets in downtown Detroit, was demolished in 2011.
- He was a conductor for the cause even before there were any discussions about reconstruction.
- Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill: It is said that the structure that houses this sports bar was formerly a stop on the Underground Railroad, which is a fascinating fact (and Prohibition for that matter).
An underground passageway beneath the bar is thought to have served as an escape route during both periods of history.
Underground Railroad Tours in Detroit
Tour of the Underground Railroad Station House at First Congregational Church: Hosted by the Underground Railroad Living Museum, this tour is a recreation in which participants are converted into passengers on the Underground Railroad and are guided to freedom by a conductor. Those interested in retracing the routes of former slaves may sign up for their Detroit Underground Railroad walking tour, which is available for booking online. This tour includes a spectacular recreation performed by actors within the Croghan Street Station as part of the experience.
Detroit Historical Museum: Visitors may practically walk along the route to freedom in one section of the exhibit, which has an interactive pathway.
Learn more aboutDetroit’s black history.
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- City Tour Detroit, Detroit, MI 48226313-757-1283
- 3Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805
- 4Gateway to Freedom Marker, Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805
- 2City Tour Detroit, Detroit, MI 48226313-757-1283
- 3Detroit Historical Museum The Hart Plaza is located at Hart Plaza in Detroit, Michigan, USA
- 5 and 6Mariner’s Church is located at 170 E Jefferson Ave in Detroit, Michigan, USA. Phone: 313-259-2206
- Address: 1200 Elmwood St, Detroit, MI 48207, USA
- Elmwood Cemetery 8George DeBaptiste’s Home Marker415 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States
- 9Finney Hotel Historical Marker1212 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226, United States
- 10Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill624 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, United States 313-965-2269
Michigan and the Underground Railroad: what you learned in school isn’t the whole story
City Tour Detroit, Detroit, MI 48226313-757-1283; 3Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805; 4Gateway to Freedom Marker, Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805; 5Detroit Historical Museum, Detroit, MI 48202313-833-1805; 5; 6Mariner’s Church170 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, USA; Hart Plaza, Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI 48226; Phone: 313-259-2206; Address: 1200 Elmwood St, Detroit, MI 48207, United States of America 8George DeBaptiste’s Home Marker415 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, USA; 9Finney Hotel Historical Marker1212 Griswold St, Detroit, MI 48226, USA; 10Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill624 3rd Ave, Detroit, MI 48226, USA; 11Tommy’s Detroit BarGrill 313-965-2269;
Travel the Underground Railroad in Michigan
I have always been captivated by the concept of traveling the Underground Railroad in Michigan, even before I started my Michigan travel blog. History is one of my favorite subjects. Exploring is something I like doing. In addition, I enjoy road excursions. As a result, this appeared to be an exciting journey! However, I continued putting it off because I had other ideas that kept springing into my head. In addition, I never seemed to have the time, until now, to research which locations from this era are still in existence.
- I became even more interested in the Underground Railroad during our trip, during which we visited a few of historic locations associated with it.
- I believe that visiting for the first time together will be a positive experience for both of us.
- Many of the historic residences and museums are currently closed for renovations.
- It was constructed by the historical society of this town to provide a thorough self-guided tour of all known sites associated with the Underground Railroad.
I’ve included their website link, as well as links to additional self-guided tours, below. Enjoy exploring any or all of the Underground Railroad in Michigan by utilizing this resource!
What is the Underground Railroad?
It was a hidden, organized network that assisted fugitive slaves in their efforts to reach Canada in order to gain their freedom from slavery. It was first established in the 1830s and continued to operate until after the Civil War, when the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified. It was against the law at the time to assist any fugitive slave in escaping or evading arrest. Until they reached Canada, freedom seekers were guided by “Conductors” between “Stations,” or safe places, until they arrived.
Map of the Underground Railroad in Michigan
Located near the Indiana border in southern Michigan, the little communities of Cassopolis and Vandalia are a great place to visit. These towns are some of the first stops in Michigan that escaped slaves made on their way north through Indiana, if they were traveling north. Many of Michigan’s Underground Railroad stationmasters were Quakers, particularly in southern Michigan. Stephen Bogue, William Jones, Ishmael Lee, and James E. Bonine were among the famous stationmasters who worked in this area.
Zachariah Shugart and Henry Shepherd were the conductors in charge of the train service between Cassopolis and Schoolcraft.
During this time period, the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County set developed an extremely comprehensive website that has historical facts and specifics on the roles that these two communities performed.
As these villages have some historic residences and churches to visit, they may easily be covered in a single day trip.
Located near the Indiana border in southern Michigan, the little communities of Cassopolis and Vandalia are a good place to start your journey. In these places, escaped slaves may rest and rest while traveling north through Indiana on their way to the United States. The Quakers accounted for a large proportion of Underground Railroad stationmasters in Michigan’s southern region. Stephen Bogue, William Jones, Ishmael Lee, and James E. Bonine were some of the famous stationmasters that worked in this area.
Zachariah Shugart and Henry Shepherd were the conductors that worked between Cassopolis and Schoolcraft.
For more information on these two communities’ contributions to the Underground Railroad Society of Cass County, see their extremely informative website, which includes historical facts and specifics on their respective roles during this time period.
As these towns have some historic residences and churches to explore, they might easily be visited in a single day trip. Another useful resource is this article from the Chicago Tribune, which provides information on several of the historic locations featured on the self-guided tour.
Clomax is the next station on the Underground Railroad’s route through Michigan. In order to meet with Isaac Davis, Dr. Thomas led the group of freedom searchers to Climax. The freedom seekers were subsequently transported to Battle Creek by Isaac Pierce, who lived next door. Unfortunately, there are no memorials or historical markers left in Climax today.
Clomax is the next station on the Underground Railroad’s route in Michigan. In order to meet up with Isaac Davis, Dr. Thomas led the freedom searchers to Climax. The freedom seekers were then transported to Battle Creek by Isaac Pierce, a neighbor. It is unfortunate that there are no memorials or historical markers left in Climax.
Climax is the next destination on the Underground Railroad’s route through Michigan. Dr. Thomas escorted the freedom fighters to Climax, where they met up with Isaac Davis and other leaders. The freedom seekers were subsequently transported to Battle Creek by Isaac Pierce, a neighbor of his. Unfortunately, there are no memorials or historical markers left in Climax.
Climax is the next destination on the Underground Railroad in Michigan. Dr. Thomas escorted the freedom seekers to Climax, where they met up with Isaac Davis. His next-door neighbor, Isaac Pierce, then transported the freedom seekers to Battle Creek. Unfortunately, no memorials or historical markers have survived in Climax.
After Jackson, the freedom seekers made their way to Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti, where they slept for the night. The Underground Railroad is commemorated by a docent-led bus tour that travels across Washtenaw County, stopping at several places along the route. The African American Cultural and Historical Museum of Washtenaw County is guiding this Journey to Freedom Tour around the county. Student and elderly citizens pay a reduced rate of $10, while adults pay $25. Because of COVID, tours are not being offered at this time.
If you’re interested in taking a self-guided tour of several of the places covered on the trip, the locations are given below.
The Wall Street Parking Structure is the first stop. This inconspicuous parking garage has inscriptions on its walls that tell the story of Ann Arbor’s anti-slavery newspaper, The Signal of Liberty, which was founded in 1848. This journal was published on Broadway Street in New York City between 1841 and 1846. The Ann Arbor District Library has around 350 copies of the book, which was founded by abolitionists Theodore Foster and the Rev. Guy Beckley. Take a look at the digital version by clicking here.
The Perry House, located at 1317 Pontiac Trail, the old integrated schoolhouse, located at 1202 Traver Road, and the Guy Beckley House, located at 1425 Pontiac Trail are all worth seeing.
Beckley Park, which is located behind the home and borders the land, may be found there.
Harwood Farm is another place that has seen a great deal of Underground Railroad activity.
This mansion has an incredible amount of history, which you can learn more about by visiting this website. On their land, William and Polly Harwood, as well as their free Black neighbors Asher and Catherine Aray, protected and housed freedom seekers.
Millie and George McCoy, stationmasters and conductors, lived in a cabin on the Starkweather Farm, located at 1266 Huron River Drive in Ypsilanti, during the mid-nineteenth century. Millie and George were born into slavery in the United States, but managed to flee to Canada. The couple then returned to the United States with their children and settled in Ypsilanti, Michigan. They were part in the Underground Railroad when they were there. George came to Detroit on a regular basis to exchange cigars and to hide runaways among the merchandise.
The city of Detroit served as the final destination on the Underground Railroad in Michigan before freedom seekers made their way to Canada. In the mid-1800s, more than 50,000 individuals passed through Detroit, often known as “midnight,” on their way to or from the city. Because of this, there are several “stations” and historic sites to visit in Detroit. As a result, I divided this part into two sections: genuine places along the Underground Railroad and the museum and sculptures that have been created following abolition.
Sites Along the Underground Railroad in Detroit
All of the present and historic locations mentioned below were formerly part of the Underground Railroad’s path through America:
- There were a number of former Underground Railroad locations along the route mentioned below, both current and historic:
Museums, Monuments and More
In addition, make sure to check out the exhibits listed below to acquire a better appreciation of how significant Detroit was in the struggle for freedom:
- Marker for the Gateway to Freedom– There are two statues that represent the Gateway to Freedom. Detroit has a statue of George deBaptiste with a group of freedom seekers pointing across the Detroit River, and another is in New Orleans. A map of the Underground Railroad is inscribed into the stone underneath the sculpture, as well as the names of some of the best-known Underground Railroad Conductors. The second sculpture, which is located in Windsor, Canada, depicts a group of emancipated slaves who are enjoying their freedom. The Doorway to Freedom exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum is a permanent exhibit dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Underground Railroad that can be found at the Detroit Historical Museum. Within the exhibit, there is an interactive trail as well as stories from families who have remained in the city of Detroit. It is now open Thursday through Sunday and costs $10 for adults and $6 for children to enter
- It is currently closed on Mondays. “Exploring and appreciating the rich cultural history of African Americans” is the mission of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which features both permanent and rotating exhibitions. The Wright Museum is open Thursday through Sunday and charges $10 for adults, $7 for children, and is free for children under the age of three. The Henry Ford Museum– The With LibertyJustice for AllExhibit at the Henry Ford Museum showcases items and discusses individuals associated with the antislavery and civil rights movements. Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest integrated cemetery in the Midwest, having been established in 1846. Elmwood Cemetery is home to the graves of more than a dozen Underground Railroad participants, including George deBaptiste.
Sculptures at the Gateway to Freedom — There are two sculptures at the Gateway to Freedom. An example is a mural in Detroit portraying George deBaptiste with a group of freedom seekers waving their hands over Detroit River. Its base is adorned with an etched-in-stone map of the Underground Railroad as well as the names of some of the most well-known Underground Railroad Conductors in history. Another sculpture, located in Windsor, Canada, depicts a group of emancipated slaves who are celebrating their freedom; the third sculpture is located in New York City.
- An interactive path and tales from families who have remained in Detroit are included in the show.
- “Exploring and appreciating the rich cultural history of African Americans” is the mission of the Charles H.
- For adults, admission to the Wright Museum is $10; children under three are admitted free.
- It is located at the Henry Ford Museum.
- It was founded in 1846, and Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest integrated cemetery in the United States.
Several Underground Railroad participants, notably George deBaptiste, are buried in Elmwood Cemetery.
- Marker for the Gateway to Freedom– There are two Gateway to Freedom sculptures on the grounds. One is in Detroit and depicts George deBaptiste with a group of freedom seekers pointing over the Detroit River. The artwork is surrounded by a map of the Underground Railroad, which has been engraved into the stone underneath it, as well as the names of some of the known Underground Railroad Conductors. The second sculpture, located in Windsor, Canada, depicts a group of emancipated slaves who are enjoying their freedom. In the Detroit Historical Museum, there is a permanent display dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Underground Railroad. It is called the Doorway to Freedom exhibit. There is an interactive path and stories from families who have remained in Detroit as part of the show. Currently, the Detroit Historical Museum is open Thursday through Sunday and admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children. “Exploring and appreciating the rich cultural history of African Americans,” according to the mission of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, which features both permanent and rotating exhibitions. The Wright Museum is open Thursday through Sunday and charges $10 for adults, $7 for children, and is free for children under three years old. The Henry Ford Museum– The With LibertyJustice for AllExhibit at the Henry Ford Museum showcases items and discusses individuals from the antislavery and civil rights eras. It was founded in 1846, and Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest integrated cemetery in the Midwest. Elmwood Cemetery is the final resting place of more than a dozen Underground Railroad individuals, including George deBaptiste.
Marker for the Gateway to Freedom– There are two Gateway to Freedom sculptures. One is in Detroit, and it depicts George deBaptiste with a group of freedom seekers pointing over the Detroit River. The sculpture is surrounded by a map of the Underground Railroad, which has been engraved into the stone underneath it, as well as the names of some of the known Conductors. The second sculpture, which is located in Windsor, Canada, depicts a group of emancipated slaves who are enjoying their liberation.
Within the exhibit, there is an interactive path as well as stories from families who have remained in Detroit.
The Charles H.
The Henry Ford Museum– The With LibertyJustice for AllExhibit at the Henry Ford Museum showcases items and discusses individuals from the antislavery and civil rights eras; Elmwood Cemetery– Founded in 1846, Elmwood Cemetery is the oldest integrated cemetery in the Midwest.