JACKSON, Mich — The Underground Railroad meant life or death for those escaping slavery. Part of it ran through Jackson.
And, on Tuesday, the Jackson County Historical Society honored the role the Jackson Amtrak station played in the anti-slavery movement.
“Since its earliest days Jackson has been at the forefront of the anti-slavery movement both for quietly helping breaking the bonds of that oppression and for publicly taking political action," said Amtrak spokesperson Derrick James.
The events surrounding one person who accessed the Underground Railroad in Jackson may been a tipping point leading into Civil War according to historian Linda Hass.
Kentucky native Adam Crosswhite escaped slavery and came to Marshall to be with his family. Slave catchers located him and had plans to take all of them back.
“The townsfolk of Marshall would have none of it," said Hass. "They intervened. They secretly transported Adam to Jackson’s train depot where Adam and his family boarded an eastbound train from the original depot to Detroit and from Detroit they fled to Canada.”
John White also born on a Kentucky plantation headed north to Jackson to try to gain freedom in 1847. After White found work on a Jackson farm, slave catchers located him, too.
“The Jackson farmer was tipped off that he was coming," said Hass. "And, found out in the nick of time and was able to transport John to Jackson’s train depot where again a train was boarded, an east bound train to Detroit. From Detroit, John successfully fled to Canada. And the common denominator to both of these escapes was the important role that Jackson’s railway played in their freedom.”
“You don’t know who you’re going to run into," said Jackson County Historical Society president Maurice Imhoff. "You have people chasing you. So you don’t know when you get off here, are these people going to help you or are they going capture you and that’s very very scary. And, to know that Jackson’s people helped them is highly important and highly notable.”
Two men able to escape slavery with the help of Jackson's Underground Railroad.
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