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Archive for Monday, December 13, 1999

WRITER EXAMINES UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

December 13, 1999

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The author of a new book on the Underground Railroad in Douglas County says known sites should be preserved.

A new book documenting dozens of sites of the Underground Railroad in Douglas County should be out this week, the author said.

"It should be at the Watkins (Community) Museum, at the Raven (bookstore). Hopefully, some other places as well," said Martha Parker, director of the Clinton Lake Museum and an area historian.

Parker spoke Sunday at a meeting of the Underground Railroad Assn. of Douglas County on Sunday at the Watkins museum, 1047 Mass.

After the meeting, the small group who attended went to the Grover Barn, just south of Clinton Parkway on Lawrence Avenue, which now houses Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Station No. 4.

Grover Barn, built in 1858, was one of about 30 sites of the Underground Railroad in Douglas County.

The Underground Railroad was a network of safehouses and other hiding places for slaves seeking freedom in northern states and Canada, before and during the Civil War.

Parker has documented many of the sites in her new book.

She and Judy Sweets, registrar and research librarian at the Watkins museum, estimated that between 300 and 1,000 slaves went through the area, making it a significant route in the Midwest.

The book, "Angels of Freedom," will outline information on several people who hid and transported slaves across the county from about 1854 to 1861.

At Sunday's meeting, Parker and other members of the group said they will continue to work hard to get the word out about Underground Railroad sites in Douglas County and in Kansas.

"Kansas has been short-changed," Parker said. "I don't know that there's anyone to blame."

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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