Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in the St. Charles Area

Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in the St. Charles Area
Featuring: Carol Jefferson
Monday, June 6, 6:30 pm
St. Charles Public Library

Stories of the Underground Railroad running through southeastern Minnesota have been whispered for generations and Carol Jefferson has spent years tracking them down. She has also collected stories of abolitionists that have relocated to the St. Charles area. Learn about what Jefferson has discovered, and perhaps share a few stories of your own in this special program at the St. Charles Public Library.

See below for more on the Underground Railroad Story Project…

Underground Railroad Story Project

The Underground Railroad was a secret network of people and routes assisting runaway enslaved people to freedom prior to the American Civil War. Although slavery was prohibited within the Minnesota Territory and later the state of Minnesota, the Dred Scott case showed the world that enslaved people brought here prior to the Civil War were not guaranteed freedom.  Thus, the Underground Railroad was at work throughout the Midwest, assisting Freedom Seekers on their journeys to Canada.

Stories on this topic have been whispered throughout southeast Minnesota communities for generations and we want to hear them. Have you heard local rumors about secret tunnels on hillsides or strange hidden rooms beneath old houses? How about stories of active abolitionists who relocated to southeast Minnesota from eastern states in the mid-1800s? Do you own an old house along the Mississippi River once used as a summer vacation home for southern plantation owners who were accompanied by their enslaved servants on trips to the north? Are you familiar with the old trails, stagecoach routes or early military roads of the area that may have been used to assist runaway enslaved persons? We need your help gathering local stories on this topic.

In partnership with the Whitewater State Park Oral History Project, the Plainview Area History Center and the St. Charles Public Library will be helping collect local stories, legends and myths about the Underground Railroad and possible connections to southeast Minnesota.

Stories will be gathered to document the history of early abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in southeast Minnesota. Sara Holger, Lead Interpretive Naturalist from Whitewater State Park, will follow up with storytellers to conduct interviews in an effort to track down possible origins of these stories.


Stories may be written or typed. You can send them by postal mail or drop them off at one of the three locations listed below. You may also email your stories directly to Sara Holger at sara.holger@state.mn.us . When writing stories, please include your name, birth date, telephone number and email address if you have one. Be as detailed as possible, including names of sources.

To be included in this project, please submit stories before September 1, 2022. If sending by mail, please address the envelope “Underground Railroad Story Project” and send to one of the following addresses:

Plainview Area History Center, c/o Janine Zarling, 40  4th St. SW, Planview, MN 55964

St. Charles Public Library, c/o Jill Veerkamp, 125 W. 11th Street, St. Charles, MN 55972

Whitewater State Park, c/o Sara Holger, 19041 Highway 74, Altura, MN 55910


You can discover more about the Underground Railroad and its reach throughout the Midwest by Googling these websites and articles:

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, a program of the National Park Service

Minnesota Woman Works to Find Underground Railroad Connection, written by Kyle Farris of the Associated Press and appeared in the Washington Times on February 17, 2018

Joseph Farr Remembers the Underground Railroad in St. Paul, written by Deborah Swanson for the Fall 2000 issue of Minnesota History, a publication of the Minnesota Historical Society

The Mississippi River – Gateway to Freedom, written by Laura Deering for the Fillmore County Journal on February 15, 2021.

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