The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois

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About the Book

Fugitives fleeing from slavery in Kentucky, Missouri, and points farther south traversed the entire state of Illinois while moving northward. But they were most likely to receive help from Underground railroad operators if they passed through western Illinois, where a good number of Underground Railroad agents lived.
This book briefly discusses the Underground Railroad throughout the United States and all of Illinois. It addresses at length the activities of Underground Railroad operators, both black and white, in western Illinois. The compelling efforts of these people have been surprisingly neglected; this book examines in detail their significant contributions to this heroic chapter in American history.

About the Author(s)

Owen W. Muelder is director of the Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Center at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. His work has appeared in Illinois Heritage.

Bibliographic Details

Owen W. Muelder
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 199
Bibliographic Info: 21 photos, maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012 [2008]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7300-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

I. The Military Tract      5

II. Adams County—Free Soil but Not Free      35

III. Hancock County—Remote Hideouts      51

IV. McDonough County—Traveling through Tall Grass Prairies      67

V. Fulton County—Cluster of “Depots”      77

VI. Peoria County—Danger in the City of Peoria      91

VII. Knox County—Sanctuary in the College Town      104

VIII. Stark County—The Minister’s Diary      121

IX. Bureau County—The Martyr’s Brother      137

X. The Underground Railroad Moves on Steel      149

Notes      161

Bibliography      179

Index      187

Book Reviews & Awards

“Owen Muelder’s The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois is a superb piece of work: fascinating, comprehensive, and gracefully written.”—Fergus M. Bordewich, Bound for Canaan: The Epic Story of the Underground Railroad, America’s First Civil Rights Movement; “an informative work…highly recommend this excellent treatment”—Illinois Heritage; “an excellent addition…the book’s opening chapter is one of the best descriptions of the Underground Railroad in print”—Underground Railroad Free Press; “a wealth of material in a single volume…gives the reader opportunity to evaluate the sources and their authors’ perspectives”—Missouri Historical Review; “a welcome addition…extensive and detailed information”—Journal of Illinois History; “What a revelation! Owen W. Muelder’s keen research casts a sharp light upon Underground Railroad activity and freedom fighters in Illinois. It is an essential text for understanding the Underground Railroad and the struggle for freedom in America’s Midwest.” —Naomi Nelson, Vice President of Programs, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.