Freedom Seekers Blog

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Geocaching the Underground Railroad

Posted by on Jan 6th, 2015 in Lane Trail Blog | 0 comments

photo 1I started this project last summer. I tried to raise some money to buy supplies and to pay an expert in geocaching to locate and install the caches. That fund raising was not successful. I found a geocacher, Melissa Gard, who volunteered her time to install the caches. I supplied the geocache boxes and other supplies. I also have written some descriptions telling why the area where the cache is found was important to the Underground Railroad. To date, we have placed two caches in Quindaro. Melissa has located spots for caches at the Wakarusa Valley Heritage Museum and in Holton, Kansas. We hope to have those installed by February 21, 2015 when the museum is hosting a program featuring my film, Freedom Seekers: Stories From the Western Underground Railroad.

Additionally, we found that there are existing geocaches on the grounds of the John Ritchie home in Topeka and the Mayhew Cabin in Nebraska City, Nebraska. .

My goal is to establish a series of geocaches at Underground Railroad locations from Mound City north along the Lane Trail to Nebraska City, Nebraska and the Mayhew cabin. If there are any geocachers who are equipped to install one of these, I will furnish the supplies and text for the location description.

Below are links to the 4 existing geocaches that are listed on the geocaching website and can be found by the many people who like to geocache.


Quindaro Site #1

Quindaro Site # 2

Lawrence, KS Wakarusa River Valley Museum

John Ritchie House 

Battle of the Spurs

Mt. Mitchell   

Mayhew Cabin

John Brown and the Last Train

Posted by on Dec 2nd, 2014 in Lane Trail Blog | 1 comment

Sam Harper smallerMy first book, John Brown and The Last Train tells the little known story of John Brown and his 1858 raid on 3 Missouri slave farms in Butler County. During this trip, 2 Freedom Seekers fell in love and were married by an Iowa preacher. This was an unusual situation because the courtship and marriage took place on the escape to Canada. These Freedom Seekers named Sam Harper and Jane (unknown last name) were later located in Canada and interviewed. The attached photograph was taken at that time. Click here to read the interview. The photo was taken at the time of the interview, I believe.

Recently the Mayhew Cabin and John Brown’s Cave published the following press release.

    Cathy Briley, Vice President of the Mayhew Cabin Board of Directors, has conducted several hundreds of hours of research to uncover the identities of freedom seekers (escaping slaves) that passed through the Mayhew family’s home as part of the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War. In particular, those that John Brown freed in western Missouri in December 1858. Brown and his group physically freed 11 slaves from their masters at that time. Part of Brown’s group was John Kagi, brother to Barbara Mayhew who lived in the historic Mayhew Cabin in Nebraska City, NE. John Brown and John Kagi brought the 11 freedom seekers into Kansas Territory where one woman gave birth to a son, who they named after John Brown. Now the group of 12 freedom seekers was brought north into Nebraska Territory where they were given food and shelter at the home of Kagi’s sister, Barbara Mayhew. 

     Brown, Kagi, and the group of freedom seekers did make it safely across the Missouri River into Iowa and continued east, then eventually reached freedom in Windsor, Ontario, Canada in March of 1859. Briley has been working on identifying the freedom seekers in this group and has utilized various other sources to uncover their names beyond census records. In May of this year, Briley found and came into email contact with a direct descendant of two of slaves that married after their long trek, and was surprised to find that he still lived in the Windsor, Ontario area. In October, Brad Mayhew (direct descendant of the Mayhew family and Board Member of the Mayhew Cabin Museum) traveled to Canada and met with slave descendant Darryl Hogan and his wife Kathryn.  Mr. Hogan is a board member for the North American Historical Museum in Amherstburg, Ontario. 

        The Mayhew Cabin with John Brown’s Cave is a historic site that interprets the history of the Underground Railroad in the region and how the Mayhew family and John Kagi were involved in such activity. If anyone is interested in this type of history, they are invited to visit our museum. We are located at 2012 4th Corso in Nebraska City, NE.  The site is operated by a non-profit foundation and donations of any size are always welcome. For more information on this story or the museum, please call 402-873-3115 or email or visit the website


Civil War “Colored” troops

Posted by on Oct 17th, 2014 in Lane Trail Blog | 0 comments

Negroes To Hire Front 145 x 200African American historian Hari Jones gave a talk in Columbia Missouri in which he reports that African American troops captured Richmond, Virginia, at the end of the war. He learned this only by researching a primary source document written by Gen. U.S. Grant. I can only relate this to the little known local story of the First Kansas Colored Volunteer Regiment recruited prior to President Lincoln issuing the order allowing black men to enlist in the Union army. Jimmy Johnson’sJimmy Johnson great grandfather George Washington, and other “Colored” troops fought the first engagement between Confederates and African American troops at the Skirmish at Island Mound.