The Underground Railroad
Question:  Were the Slaves comfortable while hiding in the
false cellar under the Cheney Mansion and waiting for the next
Conductor?   See for yourself at the Annual Apple Festival  
Saturday ~ September 27, 2008 ~ 9 am until 6 pm
"I's hoping and praying all the time I meets up with that
Harriet Tubman woman. She the colored woman what takes
slaves to Canada. She always travels the underground
railroad, they calls it, travels at night and hides out in the
day. She sure sneaks them out the south, and I thinks she's
a brave woman.
___ Thomas Cole, Born 1845, enslaved in Alabama.
The waters of the mighty Mississippi River played a vital role in this clandestine, grassroots
movement known as the Underground Railroad. This was a railroad that had no tracks nor cars, no
bells nor whistles. The railroad truly was the feet of the escaping slaves or a silent trip hidden
under the hay of a horse-drawn supply wagon of a "conductor".
Now there were some terms that you need to know, like "conductor". This was a person who
assisted the slaves in getting from one station to the next. A "station" was a code word for the
next safe stop on the railroad. And this railroad ran from the south to north into Canada (the
promise land or freedom). Conductors suspected or caught helping fleeing slaves, risked being
fined as much as $500, as well as threat to their life, limb and property.
Alton's riverfront location was a vital hub in helping slaves create connections to freedom in the
north. Free blacks and hired slaves who worked on riverboats were able to spread the word about
the Underground Railroad to other slaves. Because St. Louis, down river from Alton, was one of
the largest slave-holding areas north of New Orleans, historians believe many slaves escaped
through Illinois as it was a free state.
"You may think hard of us for running away from
slavery... To be compelled to stand by and see you
whip and slash my wife without mercy, when I
could afford her no protection, not even by
offering myself to suffer the lash in her place...
This kind of treatment was what drove me from
home and family, to seek better home for them."
___ Henry Bibb, Windsor, Ontario, to his former
owner, 1844.
Over eight million free black men, women and children were
brought into this country from the Indies, Haiti, and Africa into
slavery, from approximately 1619 - 1803. Come along with us
and retrace their steps in history in our area. Unlike the intrepid
travelers who followed the North Star without knowing from
where their next meal or bed would be, the Greater Alton/Twin
Rivers Convention and Visitors Bureau sales staff will be your
conductor. We have a number of stations to suit your needs and
all are happy to accommodate your group.
Underground Railroad Sites
The Old Rock House: Site of the Anti-Slavery Society and a station on the railroad.
College Avenue Presbyterian Church: Abolitionist Elijah P. Lovejoy served as its first minister
The Alton Museum of History and Art: Koenig House ~ Lovejoy printshop Loomis Hall ~ Black Pioneer Room with
Underground Railroad message quilt
Elijay P. Lovejoy Monument: Dedicated to martyred publisher and the tallest monument in the State of Illinois
Lyman Trumbull House: The U.S. Senator who wrote the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in America
Lewis & Clark Community College Campus: Site of the former Monticello Women's Seminary when students and
Faculty were purported abolitionists. Tunnels exist beneath campus buildings   
Enos Apartments: Underground tunnels exist 15 feet below Third Street and resemble Roman catacombs
Rocky Fork Church: Church originated before the Civil War, when free people and slaves crossed the Mississippi
River to befin life in the "free" state of Illinois
Hamilton Memorial School: One of the earliest integrated schools in the state, it was funded through the legacy of Dr.
Silas Hamilton. Freed slave George Washington built a memorial in Hamilton's honor and left a sizable estate for the
education of Black youth. Learn the poignant story of the friendship and bond of Hamilton and Washington.
Josiah White's Log Cabin: The remains of this one-spacious two-story cabin sheltered runaway slaves on their journey
The Cheney Mansion: Located at 601 North State Street, Jerseyville, Illinois.  Many Abolitionist lived in the
community of Jerseyville and many streets on the East side of town are named after them.
Jersey County Historical Society
601 North State Street
Jerseyville, Illinois  62052
Phone  618 498 3514
Webmaster ~ Bob French

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