Salem, Iowa, Henry County
At the Lewelling Quaker Museum, three remarkable accounts in American history come together: Quaker foundations of American life west of the Mississippi, the abolition of slavery and the Underground Railroad, and the Pacific fruit origins from Salem, IA and the Oregon Trail.
Tabor, Iowa, Fremont County
The home of Congregational Minister John Todd and Martha Todd was a significant “hub” of Underground Railroad activity in western Iowa. Tabor was known as an antislavery stronghold and became an important route to and from “Bleeding Kansas” following the 1854 enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Abolitionist John Brown moved through Tabor on travel eastward.
Lewis, Iowa, Cass County
A native of Massachusetts, George B. Hitchcock, a minister in the Congregational Church had been a traveling “circuit” preacher in the frontier country of western Iowa. Hitchcock was an ardent abolitionist. He built this stone house about 1856 and carried out Underground Railroad activities, providing shelter to fugitive slaves, or freedom seekers, on their way northward.
West Des Moines, Iowa, Polk County
The Jordan House is a stately home in Polk County, Iowa built by early settler, James C. Jordan. The home is a museum of the Underground Railroad and serves as of the West Des Moines historical society. Jordan was a staunch abolitionist and conductor. Freedom seekers were concealed in the fields, barns and outbuildings of the property. Radical abolitionist John Brown stayed at least twice at Jordan house, once when he was leading a group of twelve slaves to freedom.
Denmark, Iowa, Lee County
Denmark, Iowa was a geographic nexus of Underground Railroad travel routes in Southeast Iowa. Denmark abolitionists were very active in harboring and guiding freedom seekers on their journey northward. Leaders in the Congregational Church led much of the abolitionist fervor of the time. Denmark abolitionists were known to work closely with those in Salem as stationmasters and conductors. Many are buried in this early cemetery. Their gravestones tell the story.
National Park Service
The mission of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is to honor, preserve and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, which continues to inspire people worldwide. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps to advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression.