March 2004 by bdm94754


									Network to Freedom
                                 In Pursuit of Freedom
Run-away Negroes have resided in
these places for twelve, twenty, or thirty
years and upwards, subsisting them-
selves in the swamp upon corn, hogs,
and fowls, that they raised on some of
the spots not perpetually under water,
nor subject to be flooded, as forty-nine
parts out of fifty of it are; and on such
spots they have erected habitations, and
cleared small fields around them; yet
these have always been perfectly im-
penetrable to any of the inhabitants of
the country around, even to those near-
est to and best acquainted with the

1784, John Ferdinand Smyth, A Tour of            Whitfield Lovell, "Sanctuary: The Great Dismal Swamp," 2002, (Installation view) at
the United States of America,                    the Center for Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, Virginia. Photo: Glen McClure.

In October 2002, the staff at the Great       A few months later, the National Park        and Recreation, and Elizabeth City State
Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Ref-          Service contacted the refuge to discuss       University. The application was unani-
uge (Virginia) learned of an art exhibit     including the Great Dismal Swamp in           mously approved by the Network to
opening at the Virginia Contemporary         the National Underground Railroad Net-        Freedom coordinators.
Arts Center entitled “Sanctuary: The         work to Freedom. Working with Wanda
Great Dismal Swamp.” The artist,             McLean of Elizabeth City State Univer-         To celebrate the recognition of the
Whitfield Lovell, created the work           sity (North Carolina) and NPS mentors,        Great Dismal Swamp’s role in the quest
which included recreating the Great          18th and 19th century documents were          for freedom, the National Wildlife Ref-
Dismal Swamp within two rooms of the         researched and an application submitted       uge, in partnership with their Friend’s
Art Center and charcoal sketches of the      to the Network to Freedom in July 2003.       group, the Great Dismal Swamp Coali-
African Americans who may have found         By the time the application was submit-       tion, the City of Chesapeake, Virginia,
sanctuary there. Completing the work         ted, the “owner group” for the nomina-        the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome
was the sounds of timber cutting, muf-       tion included the US Fish and Wildlife        Center, and the Public Affairs Office of
fled voices of workers, and baying           Service, US Army Corps of Engineers,          the US Army Corps of Engineers,
hounds.                                      North Carolina Department of Transpor-        planned a ceremony and luncheon. On
                                             tation, North Carolina Division of Parks                               (Continued on page 2)

Official newsletter of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Issue #7                            Winter/Spring 2004
  In Pursuit of Freedom                                                                    Friends’ Group
  (Continued from page 1)                       The sites recognized in the ceremony       Dear Friends of the Underground
  February 13, 2004, over 270 people            have traditionally worked together on      Railroad,
  gathered at the Chesapeake Confer-            various projects, particularly interpre-
  ence Center to participate in the cele-       tive events. They will continue to do      Please accept this invitation to
  bration.                                      so, and have even discussed the possi-     join the National Underground
                                                bility of installing similarly designed    Railroad Friends’ Group for our
  The celebration was held included a           interpretive panels at each location.      first national meeting and con-
  luncheon and program. NPS pre-                For the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife        gressional lobby day on April 28-
  sented “certificates of acceptance” to        Refuge, the designation means a new        29, 2004 in Washington, DC.
  representatives of the five sites that        interpretive message that provides an      This effort is a direct result of an
  comprise the Great Dismal Swamp               opportunity to entice people who may       initial meeting organized in
  listing. Descendants of Moses Grandy,         not have considered visiting the refuge    Spring 2003 by Barbara Woods
  an enslaved laborer on the Dismal             in the past.                               of St Louis, MI. I have been re-
                                                                                           tained by the National Park Foun-
                                                                                           dation to take Barbara’s work a
                                                                                           step further and get the Friends’
                                                                                           Group off the ground.

                                                                                           The purpose of this gathering is
                                                                                           two-fold— to let our representa-
                                                                                           tives know that we are still
                                                                                           watching when it comes to the
                                                                                           preservation of the National Un-
                                                                                           derground Railroad Network to
                                                                                           Freedom Program, and to finalize
                                                                                           plans for the formation of a
                                                                                           Friend’s Group. Many of you
                              Descendants of Moses Grandy. Photo: Julie Rowand
                                                                                           may ask, “why another Under-
  Swamp Canal, were honored with a
                                                                                           ground Railroad group?” The an-
  plaque presented by Colonel Yvonne
                                                                                           swer is that there is no national
  Prettyman-Beck, to commemorate the
                                                                                           group that is working directly to
  role their ancestor played in building
                                                                                           preserve this story as well as sup-
  the canal. Dan Sayers, a PhD student
                                                                                           port the people on the ground in
  at the College of William and Mary
                                                                                           communities around the country.
  gave the keynote talk on his archeo-
                                                                                           As a result local programs and
  logical investigations of African
                                                                                           sites continue to suffer.
  American habitation of the Swamp.
  Dignitaries offering remarks included
                                                                                           Additionally, for the second time
  US Congressmen Walter Jones, Jr.
                                                                                           in four years the National Parks
  (NC) and J. Randy Forbes, Mayor
                                                                                           Conservation Association has
  William Ward, and Mr. Marvin
                                                                                           listed the National Underground
  Moriarty, regional director of the Fish
                                                                                           Railroad Network to Freedom
  and Wildlife Service.
                                                                                           Program on it’s 10 Most Endan-
                                                                                           gered List. This means that the
                                                                                           National Park Service, which is
                                                                                                               (Continued on page 3)

2 Winter/Spring 2004
Friends’ Group                               Freedom in the Florida Territory
(Continued from page 2)                      From January 29-31, 2004, approxi-
the agency mandated to preserve              mately 100 people gathered in at the
America’s national heritage, is              University of Miami, Coral Gables, to
not receiving the necessary fund-            participate in “Freedom in the Florida
ing or support from Congress or              Territory: American and Caribbean
agency leadership to keep this               Connections to the Underground Rail-
program alive. The time is now               road.” Presented by the Network to
for us to act. We cannot continue            Freedom Program the University of
to let the Underground Railroad              Miami Interdisciplinary Studies De-                 Dr. Jane Landers’ keynote ad-
                                             partment, the South Florida Caribbean               dress. Photo: Barbara Tagger
legacy die in the minds of those
                                             Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit,
that are charged with providing
                                             the Black Archives Foundation, the          ties, research techniques, visual arti-
the resources necessary to pre-              Florida Underground Railroad Project        facts, and interpreting historic Florida.
serve this story for current and             and the National Underground Railroad       In addition to presentations, the confer-
future generations.                          Freedom Center, this conference was         ence attendees were treated to several
                                             devoted to exploring the resistance to      performances. The opening reception
 Therefore the National Under-               enslavement through escape and flight       included a compelling interpretive pro-
ground Railroad Friend’s Group               in Florida and the Caribbean.               gram by Ralph Smith called “Abraham,
invites you to join us for this                                                          Black Seminole”. During the lunch
much needed event. The meeting               The highlight of the conference was the     break on Friday, diners watched Char-
will be hosted by the National               keynote address by Dr. Jane Landers of      lotte Battin in her one woman play
Parks Conservation Association               Vanderbilt University, author of nu-        “Freedom is My Home”. The confer-
which is located at 1300 19th                merous books including Black Society        ence closed Saturday afternoon with an
Street, NW. We cannot make this              in Spanish Florida.. Session papers         event at Lummus Park, which included
happen without you. Please con-              from leading researchers covered such       a griot, book signing and Florida Me-
                                             topics as resistance, Haiti, literary in-   morial College Steel Band.
tact me at 301-292-6677 or Email
                                             fluences, Seminoles, maroon communi, if you
are interested in participating or
if you would like more informa-

Peace and blessings,
Iantha Gantt-Wright
                                               The beginning of the “Beneath the Un-       land as a slave state aided or hindered
                                               derground Project” was undertaken           escape, is the story “Beneath the Under-
                                               largely thanks to a Network to Freedom      ground: the Flight to Freedom” seeks to
                                               grant from the National Park Service        reclaim. Working with primary materi-
    Contribute to the Newsletter               (NPS). In May 2001, the Maryland            als in the Archives, interns catalogued
                                               State Archives was designated a Net-        and digitized census data on the African
   Help us to make the newsletter more
   informative and useful to the Under-        work to Freedom Program Research            American population—both slave and
   ground Railroad community. Please           Facility status.                            free, court records, and newspaper ad-
   forward items of interest, articles, or                                                 vertisements. Phase one of the project
   topic suggestions for consideration to      While freedom seekers were still in the     focused on Baltimore, Frederick, and
   Diane Miller at NPS, 1709 Jackson           South, they were only able to rely on       Prince George’s counties.
   Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68102 or at Comments on
                                               limited support. They had to rely on
   the newsletter are also welcome.            their own sources of aid and information    For more information about the project
                                               to escape, with only the hope of further    and he final report of the Network to
   Newsletter deadlines are January 15 and     assistance once in the free states. This    Freedom grant, visit http://
   July 15 each year.                          story of slave flight, and how the geog-
                                               raphy, laws, and communities of Mary-

                                                                                                              Winter/Spring 2004      3
Congratulations to the New Network Listings
 The National Park Service regional         New York                                      Virginia
 coordinator committee, at a public         Jervis Langdon Home [site]                    Afro-American Historical Associa-
 meeting in Buffalo, New York, on                                                                 tion of Fauquier County
 September 17, 2003, accepted the           North Carolina                                        [facility]
 following sites, programs, and facili-     Roanoke Island Freedom Colony                 Great Dismal Swamp [site]**
 ties into the Network to Freedom.                 Memorial Garden [site]                 Loudoun County Courthouse [site]
 The Network now includes 149 list-         Great Dismal Swamp [site]**                   Petersburg Courthouse [site]
 ings in 26 states and DC.                                                                Sully Plantation [site]
 of Columbia                                Pennsylvania
 District of Columbia                       Chester County Historical Society             Wisconsin
 Asbury United Methodist Church             [facility]                                    Jonathan Walker’s Homesite [site]
 [site]                                     First National Bank Museum
 Woodlawn Cemetery [site]                   [facility]
                                            Library and Archives, Erie County             ** Great Dismal Swamp is located
 Indiana                                    Historical Society [facility]                        in both North Carolina and
 Historic Eleutherian College[site]         Pennsylvania State Archives                          Virginia
 Lyman Hoyt House [site]                    [facility]
                                            William C. Goodridge House [site]
 Kentucky                                   Willis House [site]
 Institute for Freedom Studies              Zercher’s Hotel [site]

What We Thought We Knew. . .
Conventional wisdom tells us that          period. De facto slavery was still         felt little risk in bringing small num-
California was admitted to the Union       practiced for many years after its         bers of slaves to California because
as a free state, and slavery, therefore,   legal abolition. Some slaveholders         they believed that the National Fugi-
was prohibited. As with other myths        tried to hide enslaved people in re-       tive Slave Law, passed as part of the
of American history, it turns out that     mote mining and rural areas to avoid       compromise of 1850, would support
this is not the case. Many believe         possible loss.                             their claims. Some slaves brought to
that slavery was banned in                                                                           California were given the
California when it entered                                                                           opportunity to gain free-
the Union as a free state                                                                            dom through arrange-
under the Compromise of                                                                              ments with slaveholders.
1850—a set of agreements                                                                             Some were allowed to
that also gave us the Fugi-                                                                          purchase freedom for
tive Slave Act. However, a                                                                           themselves and family
look at primary source ma-                                                                           members, while others
terial provides an abundance                                                                         gained release from bond-
of proof that shows slavery                                                                          age by working for a spe-
existed in California. News-                                                                         cific period of time. Self-
papers describe slave es-                                                                            liberation was chosen by
capes, ads offer slaves for                                                                          the bold, who knew that
sale, and court records list                                                                         in the early years no po-
freedom papers and cases                                                                             lice system existed to
involving enslavement. It is                                                                         keep them in servile
estimated that at any time                             San Francisco Herald, June 18, 1852           roles, and they escaped,
there were between 200-300 en-                                                                     heading out for parts un-
slaved African Americans in mining         Many Southern slave owners saw the known.
areas. In addition, California Indians     Gold Rush as a chance to extend
also were held as slaves during this       slavery into Western territory. They                                 (Continued on page 5)

4 Winter/Spring 2004
Candidates for Seventh Round
The following candidates are being considered for inclusion in the Network to Freedom in the seventh round of applications. On
March 31, 2004, at the Black Voice Media Center, Bailey Building 1590 Waterman Ave., San Bernardino, California, the NPS
regional coordinator committee will review and vote on these applications. The public is invited to attend. For further informa-
tion or to comment on the applications, please consult the Network website at, or contact Diane Miller at
National Park Service, 1709 Jackson St., Omaha, Nebraska 68102 or at 402-221-3749.

Facilities                                  Texas                                       Maryland
California                                  • Escape to Freedom (Harriet Tub-           • Belair Mansion, Bowie
• California State Library, Sacra-            man play), Houston, TX                    • Marietta House Museum, Glenn
  mento                                                                                   Dale
DC                                          Sites                                       Massachusetts
• [Howard University] Moorland              California                                  • Hart and Mary Leavitt House,
  Spingarn Research Center                  • Mary Ellen Pleasant Burial Site,            Charlemont
• Washingtoniana Div., Martin                 Napa                                      • Roger Hooker and Keziah
  Luther King Library                       • Mary Ellen Pleasant Memorial,               Leavitt House, Charlemont
Ohio                                          San Francisco, CA [site]                  Michigan
• Oberlin Heritage Center/                  DC                                          • Jonathan Walker Grave and
  O.H.I.O, Oberlin                          • Blanche K. Bruce House                      Marker. Muskegon
Pennsylvania                                Delaware                                    North Carolina
• Historical Society of Pennsyl-            • Delaware State House Museum,              • Colonial Park, Edenton
  vania, Philadelphia                         Dover                                     Ohio
• State Library of Pennsylvania,            • New Castle Courthouse, New                • Bunker Hill House, Camden
  Harrisburg                                  Castle                                    • Jonathan Wright Home, Spring-
                                            Florida                                       boro
Programs                                    • Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas              • Rev. William King Site, Delta
Delaware                                    Indiana                                     • Westwood Cemetery, Oberlin
• Star Hill Historical Society, Do-         • Georgetown District, Madison              Tennessee
  ver vicinity                              Iowa                                        • Stones River NB, Murfreesboro
Massachusetts                               • City of Cincinnati                        Texas
• Discovering New Bedford’s Un-             • Denmark Congregational                    • Seminole Indian Scouts Ceme-
  derground Railroad History, New             Church, Denmark                             tery, Brackettville
  Bedford Whaling NHP, New Bed-             • Ira Blanchard Home Site and               Virginia
  ford                                        Cemetery, Percival                        • Monclure Conway House, Fal-
Michigan                                    • Lewelling House, Salem                      mouth
• Journey to Freedom Under-                 Kentucky
  ground Railroad Tours, Ann Arbor          • White Hall, Augusta

. . . but didn’t                            photographs, documents, newspapers
                                            and more to tell the often overlooked
                                                                                        the nineteenth century and making
                                                                                        them accessible through the internet
(Continued from page 4)                     experiences of African-American             ( The
                                            slaves in California and provide stu-       team has scoured the archives of mu-
An exciting new project at the Cali-        dents, teachers, and the general pub-       seums, historical societies, and li-
fornia State University, Sacramento         lic with invaluable information for         braries across the state to gather
(CSUS), is bringing the documentary         studying and learning about this part       these documents. To gain access to
evidence of this chapter of our his-        of California history.”                     fragile documents, the team brought
tory to life. According to Library                                                      scanners and laptops to the facilities.
Director and Dean Terry Web, the            Led by Joe Moore, (manager of               As word of the project spreads,
project launched as part of the Uni-        “Reclaiming the Past: Juneteenth            Moore hopes that individuals will
versity's celebration of Black History      Celebration, a Network to Freedom           come forward and share family docu-
Month 2004, “will use high quality          program), researchers at CSUS are           ments that are now in basements,
digital images of letters, journals,        digitizing primary documents from           attics, and garages.

                                                                                                          Winter/Spring 2004       5
           UNITED STATES
        1709 JACKSON STREET
     OMAHA, NEBRASKA 68102-2571


            National Park Service
                                                Community Pride                            Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing
                                                                                           was dedicated as part of the Network
            U.S. Department of the Interior                                                to Freedom.
                                                In the early morning of May 21,
                                                1855 a small party of freedom seek-
                                                ers and their guides crossed the Mis- A community-based project, funded
                                                sissippi River at                                     in part by a Network to
 National Underground Railroad                  St. Louis, at-                                        Freedom grant, is now un-
 Network to Freedom                             tempting to                                           derway to determine the
                                                reach safety in                                       best design for development
 National Park Service                          Illinois. With                                        of this historic site, which
 1709 Jackson Street
 Omaha, Nebraska 68102                          them was Mary                                         will support tourism and
                                                Meachum, a free                                       provide a spot for quiet con-                                                                                  templation. A core group of
                                                woman of color
                                                and the widow                                         20 has been meeting
                                                                   Children at the community meet- monthly on the project.
 Diane Miller, National,   of a prominent
                                                                   ings create their own designs.
                                                African Ameri-                                        Two meetings held at area
 James Hill, Midwest,
                                                can clergyman.                                        schools to seek public input
 Jenny Masur, National Capital,                 The group was apprehended and,               have each drawn over 100 people.
                                                since the enslaved people belonged           A conceptual design is expected in
 Tara Morrison, Northeast,                      to the prominent St. Louisan Henry           May. The design will likely incor-                                                                       porate some form of river crossing,
                                                Shaw, a detailed story of the escape
 Barbara Tagger, Southeast,                     was covered in local newspapers.             landscaping, and lighting to mark                         Thus was preserved for posterity a           the path across the river. Organizers
 Guy Washington, Pacific West & Intermoun-
                                                rare example, with exact location, of are talking with Illinois officials
 tain,                   an Underground Railroad event in             about marking and preserving the
                                                Missouri. In December 2001, the              site on both sides of the Mississippi.
6 Winter/Spring 2004

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