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The city of Jackson has an official historian. Meet Linda Hass.

Linda Hass
Posted at 4:04 PM, Dec 31, 2021

JACKSON, Mich. — The city of Jackson has a new historian.

Jackson native Linda Hass will work with the city to research, preserve, promote and disseminate information about the city’s history.

Hass, who is also a historian for the Jackson County Historical Society, has always been interested in the city’s history and is excited to shed a light on little known facts about Jackson’s past.

“I’m really privileged to work with the support of a lot of people and I owe the city of Jackson a debt of gratitude for wanting to promote history in the first place,” she said.

Bucky Harris Park

Hass is best known for her work on Jackson’s role in the Underground Railroad,

“Back in the mid 1800s, Jackson really was almost an epicenter for activity in the Underground Railroad,” she said.

The First Congregational Church at 120 N. Jackson St. played a role in the Underground Railroad.

“This church has always been involved in civil rights issues, so it’s a very appropriate stop for this conversation,” she said.

The Rev. William Sullivan, a Jackson resident, had a “real passion” for the anti-slavery cause and wanted to promote the first anti-slavery newspaper, according to Hass.

Reverend Sullivan

“He had a mountain of opposition against him,” she said. “He was mobbed, beaten and almost lynched at one time, but he persevered. He founded the American Freeman. This newspaper went on to become the first anti-slavery newspaper in the state of Michigan.”

“Not just in Jackson, but in the state of Michigan,” she emphasized.

That is just one of many lesser known parts of Jackson’s past that Hass is anxious to showcase.

For instance, you may not be aware that Jackson County is the beginning point for all Michigan boundaries. The Baseline Meridian State Park straddles Rives and Henrietta Townships.

“Within this 108-acre park are the two points that mark the boundaries of all of Michigan’s boundaries,” she said. “There’s a point in the north and then there’s a point in the south that’s about 900 feet away. Both those points together determine every boundary for every piece of property in all of Michigan. In fact, Rives Township is known as the cornerstone township.”

Meridian Baseline State Park

What Jackson is most known for is being the birthplace of the Republican Party in 1854, but the city of Rippon, Wisconsin, also lays claim to the party’s founding.

“What they did predated Jackson by a couple months,” she said. “A couple dozen townsfolk met in a one-room schoolhouse and talked about it. I reject that idea. I think an actual political party needs to have candidates that people vote for. Can you imagine persuading an electorate that you have a viable national political party, but you’ve got no candidates to vote for? So, you’ve got no vote. Those things happened in Jackson, Michigan, on July, 6 1854.”

Part of her work in the coming months will be planning the installation of more historical markers, including a marker for Camp Jackson that will be unveiled on April 23.

Camp Jackson was a Civil War regimental training center for the 20th and 26th Michigan infantry regiments where more than 2,000 Michigan soldiers received their training.

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