The Underground Railroad was a network of trustworthy friends who helped enslaved people make their way to freedom! Missouri was a border state with three ways to escape. In 1820 it is estimated that there were over 10,000 enslaved individuals, who all dreamed of freedom. By 1847, laws had made it extremely dangerous for any individual, black or white, to help those who chose to flee. That did not stop anyone from trying!

By 1850, Missouri had experienced two huge waves of German immigrants seeking their own freedom, from famine, tyranny and oppression, and transformed Missouri into a German state in America. Germans had come to America, with the belief that the words found in the Constitution were meant for all. They found a country bound up with the horrific institution called slavery. Some would choose to speak up, loudly, as abolitionists. Some would choose a more silent route to help the enslaved with the Underground Railroad.

Shrouded in myth and mystery, like a secret organization, there are few records to document the stories of the “conductors” and the “stations” known as the Underground Railroad. But as with any culture where history is preserved as oral history and in the form of “stories” the legends can still be found. Signposts found in quilts hung on the fence, a hymm sung at church, or a lantern on a dock, helped thousands make their way to the land of freedom. Sharing those stories can bring a greater understanding of what life was like for many – before Lincoln’s great proclamation.

Award winning author, genealogist and historian Dorris Keeven-Franke will share stories, and dispel myths when she presents The Underground Railroad in Missouri at 11 a.m.(CDT) on Thursday, February 25, 2021. An online virtual program that is free and open to everyone which can be seen by clicking here.

This program is being hosted by the Missouri Germans Consortium in honor the 200th Anniversary of Missouri.

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