The Evidence

mt evergreen cemetery marker
national Underground Railroad network to freedom
Linda Hass, Author of Underground Railroad

Mt. Evergreen Cemetery

Michigan history center registered state site No.753

“The Underground Railroad in Jackson.” Approval and Installation: 2019.

For more information on the installation ceremony:

Mt. Evergreen Cemetery

national park service,
U.S. Dept of interior

“National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.” Jackson’s listing approved July 2019.

The National Park Service (NPS) operates the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program, which lists over 600 sites, facilities and programs with ties to the Underground Railroad.

Bucky Harris Park

Michigan history center registered state site 757c

“Abolitionists in Jackson.” Approval: 2019. Installation: Spring 2020.

Photo of marker yet to come. Map shows prominent Underground Railroad routes.

 

Local Agents

The Local Agents are sampling of men and women who participated in Jackson’s Underground Railroad. They are described in the books listed on the “Read All About It” page. 

(1802 - 1878)

Mary Green Keith DeLand

Mary Green Keith DeLand (1802-1878), wife of William and a Quaker by heritage, influenced her family to participate in the Underground Railroad. Her son, Charles DeLand, said their home was a “regular relay station on the underground railroad,” and that freedom seekers would arrive “in installments of one to half a dozen, always at night.” Mary was among unsung heroes who fed and cared for these secret visitors. She wrote on one occasion that “up to fifteen would appear for supper . . . it made a great deal of hard work for us, but we could not say them nay.”

[Sketch: Courtesy of Brianne Witt, Assistant Art Professor, Spring Arbor University]

(1794 - 1876)

William Rufus
DeLand

William Rufus DeLand (1794-1876) used his home as a station on the Underground Railroad from the 1830s to 1865. He was a cousin by marriage to Jackson founder Horace Blackman. William, his wife, Mary, and their children were among the first settlers to occupy the original log cabin built here. William was one of the first surveyors of Jackson, the first justice of the peace, a founder of Jackson’s first newspaper and a co-founder of one of Jackson’s earliest churches.

[Sketch: Courtesy of Brianne Witt, Assistant Art Professor, Spring Arbor University]

(1828-1903)

Charles Victor
DeLand

Charles Victor DeLand (1828-1903) wrote that as a youth, he often drove his father’s lumber wagon, with freedom seekers hidden in the back, to the next stop along the line. He said, “Many a weary night’s ride fell to my lot, along the new and rough roads . . . to aid these poor fugitive slaves on their way to freedom.” As an adult, Editor Charles DeLand campaigned against slavery through his newspaper, the American Citizen. He also served in the Civil War and wrote a voluminous book on Jackson’s history, among accomplishments.

Sketch: Courtesy of Brianne Witt, Assistant Art Professor, Spring Arbor University.

Local Freedom Seekers

The grave sites of DeLand family members and Emma Nichols are part of the annual “Mt. Evergreen Cemetery Tour: A Walk Through Jackson’s Past,” coordinated by the Jackson District Library and other organizations.

(1830-1916)

Emma Patton Nichols

Emma Patton Nichols (1830-1916) was born into slavery in the part of Virginia that today is known as “West Virginia.” According to a newspaper article, Emma “was assisted to Jackson through the underground railroad.” Emma worked as a seamstress and lived on Biddle Street. She is buried in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery. For more on how this brave woman is honored:

(1819-1867)

Richard Nichols

Richard Nichols (1819-1867) was born into slavery in Virginia. According to a newspaper article, Richard “ . . . fled northward fearsomely, furtively, with the hue and cry of a hunter’s pack behind . . .” Shortly after arriving in Jackson, he established himself as a barber and later married Emma P. Nichols. He is likely buried in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery in the “Nichols” family plot. (The surname is variously spelled “Nicholas.”)