After I had done some research for my post on Abraham Walton and his family’s involvement with the underground railroad I discovered an article about the underground railroad (UGRR) in Nebraska! For some reason this really surprised me and I had no idea that the underground railroad ever existed in Nebraska. It does make sense though because besides going north from the Kentucky area, it would work to travel west into Missouri and then north toward freedom.
In fact, Ms. Minick states that the Nebraska UGRR was an extension of the Missouri and Kansas UGRR and was originally called the Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa UGRR. The first station in Nebraska was at Falls City in Richardson County, then up to Nemaha in Nemaha County and finally to Nebraska City in Otoe County. Nebraska City was a favored place to cross the Missouri River and from there the line went north to Tabor, IA in northern Fremont County. This line ended at the Quaker settlement of Springdale, IA in Cedar County.
According to Minick the Nebraska line, as it became known, was under the direct management and leadership of John Brown (yes, he of Harper’s Ferry fame!) She actually met him in early 1859 before he was killed in December of that year. The line was well organized and money was raised by subscription among it’s members, who took turns and used their own transportation to take people from one station to another. This part of Nebraska, bordering on Kansas to the south and Missouri to the east, was a very risky, dangerous area and many incidents occurred.
Minick, Alice A.; “Underground Railroad in Nebraska” (read at the Annual Meeting, Jan 15, 1896); Proceedings and Collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society; vol 7, Series 2 vol 2; State Journal Company, Printers; Lincoln, NE; 1898