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Jackson cemetery recognized for involvement in Underground Railroad

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Posted at 8:46 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 15:11:16-04

LANSING, Mich. — If you're up on your mid-Michigan history, you know the city of Jackson is known for being the birthplace of the Republican Party and the Coney Dog.

One of the city's historic cemeteries is now being recognized nationwide.

Being the oldest in Jackson, Mount Evergreen Cemetery has a lot of history to its name.

If you take a closer look, there's more history to it than just its age.

"A lot of people think that you have to go somewhere to experience history," said Jackson spokesperson Aaron Dimick, "But I think this is a great lesson that history is in our own backyard."

It's a resting place for soldiers who fought in America’s major wars, but it's also a tribute to some of America’s unsung heroes.

"We have seven people here that were involved in the Underground Railroad in Jackson County to various degrees," said Dimick.

Six of them lived normal lives by day and helped slaves escape to freedom by night.

A seventh site is the grave of Emma Nichols.

"She escaped slavery in Virginia and made her way up here to Jackson."

Nichols lived out her life with her husband, who also escaped from slavery, in the city that saved her, and died in 1916.

The cemetery was added to the National Park Service's Network to Freedom, joining over 600 other historic sites around the country.

"The point of the program is to call attention to these future sites so that future generations can learn about them and learn about the Underground Railroad," said Dimick.

Mount Evergreen Cemetery was given statewide recognition this spring with a historical marker; a testament to the research done by many in the city of Jackson.

"It's taken a lot of decades to uncover that history because at the time it was something that was very secretive....as far as the city is concerned, it's great to have that national recognition," said Dimick, "but it's great to honor these brave men and women who risked so much" to provide freedom to people. That's a really great thing that we want to commend and honor."

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