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My Western Underground Railroad app follows the 1859 trip up the Underground Railroad north with 11, soon to be 12, Freedom Seekers. After liberating 11 persons held in bondage by Missouri Slavemasters, John Brown traveled north toward Canada. A baby was born to Jim Daniels and his wife, Narcissa. After receiving help and shelter by Kansas, Iowa and Illinois UGRR participants, the little group arrives in Detroit, Michigan. I did not have any information about who helped them across the Detroit River to Canada. I started reaching out to Detroit area historians.
I found Kim Simmons and she reported this party arrived in Detroit on March 12, 1859. They would have been hidden in the William Webb home, 633 E. Congress St. Unfortunately, this famous location was torn down in the 1960s. This home was also the meeting place between Frederick Douglas and John Brown. At this meeting, John Brown tried to convince Frederick Douglas to join him in his raid on the Federal Armory in Harper’s Ferry, Va.
In an ironic twist, Ms. Simmons is a descendant of another Missouri Freedom Seeker named, Caroline Quarlls. A cousin of Ms. Quarlls, Lewis Leary, died at Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry.
My friend from the Mount Mitchell Heritage Prairie noted that when I was placing geocaches along the Kansas Underground Railroad, I forgot to add a geocache in that area. I found a cache located at the Beecher Bible and Rifle church cemetery, click here. I found another geocache at the Homestead site, click here. For a complete education on the importance of Wabaunsee County and the struggle to make Kansas a Free State, click here.
The New England emigrants like Capt. William Mitchell were instrumental in making Kansas a free state and part of that struggle was operating an Underground Railroad. The Mitchell homestead is one of the few structures known to have provided shelter for Freedom Seekers.
The story of how the church became known as the Beecher and Bible Church is worth the trip out.
More about this and a map can be found on my newly released Western Underground Railroad app.
Melissa Gard and I placed another geocache to mark the Clinton Cemetery. This is the Cemetery where our late and great friend Jimmy Johnson’s, great grandfather is buried. George Washington escaped from the Platte County farm of Jessie Miller in 1863. He made his way across a frozen Missouri River to Quindaro. He soon joined the U.S. Army and the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Regiment. He fought with other former slaves until the end of the War. Many of the white officers were from the Wakarusa River Valley. George and other “Colored” troops returned to this area and purchased land. George raised 5 children on his farm. George was known to hold large July 4th picnics and all the area farmers attended. George is buried on this site and here is a photo of his tombstone. The First Kansas Colored became the 79th U.S. Colored Infantry.
I recommend a trip to the Wakarusa River Valley Heritage Museum and search for another geocache we placed there. This museum tells the story of these early settlers. Ask for Martha Parker, the Director. Martha wrote a book about these farmers and their Underground Railroad exploits.
Jimmy Johnson conducted an archaeological survey of the Platte County farm where George Washington was held in bondage. The museum holds a few artifacts from that dig.
George Washington and his wife Armanda Simpson left a huge legacy in their children and grandchildren. All have obtained advanced degrees and contributed much to society. Below is a picture of the late James S. “Jimmy” Johnson in his role as his great grandfather, Private George Washington.