Hidden History: Journal becomes one of few records of Underground Railroad

(NEXSTAR MEDIA) — Most of America’s Underground Railroad research centers around the east coast, but it has deep tracks in the center of Illinois.

There’s a man there who in the heart of the slavery era, helped dozens of runaway slaves escape. We know this because he used his pen and paper to write history.

As a historian, Knox College’s Owen Muelder knows he’s lucky.

“It is like a piece of gold,” said Muelder. Journal becomes one of few records of

The piece of gold in the form of a journal, written by Samuel G. Wright. It has become one of only a few written records of the Underground Railroad.

“Look it. January 5, 1848: Arrived home Friday evening and learned that two fugitives had been along. Pursuers had gotten a search warrant,” read Muelder.

Wright moved from New Hampshire to Canton in the mid-1800s, connecting with the anti-slavery movement in Galesburg and some other neighboring towns. He started to spread the abolitionist platform, entangled with a Christian platform.

“That message was not received very well by most people when he first started preaching,” said Muelder.

But Wright didn’t stop preaching or illegally helping runaway slaves find freedom.

Slowly, Muelder says the message start to pick up steam.

“It’s the first time in American history that we see a socially integrated movement where both black and whites are helping each other in a common cause,” said Muelder.

Through Wright’s diary, you can tell Wright has his hand in the Underground Railroad from 1840 up to and during the Civil War.

“This is an example of how things can change and how one person can have a fundamental impact on people that way,” said Muelder.

But we wouldn’t have known the half of it if it weren’t for Wright’s notes.

“He didn’t just talk about it, he actually took direct action to help these people escape. Samuel G. Wright is a hero of mine,” said Muelder.

Because many people kept quiet about their help in the Underground Railroad, historians are hesitant to quantify just how many runaway slaves benefited from these efforts.

WTNH NEWS8 provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Also, you can now block any inappropriate user by simple selecting the drop down menu on the right of any comment and selection "Block User" from there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s