It was a time in Chicago that even now is difficult to imagine. The very night before southern guns fired on Fort Sumter, the Tribune carried this story of a free black family snatched from the streets in Chicago and carried back into bondage. This was shocking back then because Chicago had long been known as a haven for those seeking freedom.
From his tailor shop here on Dearborn Street, wealthy businessman John Jones ran an important stop on the Underground Railroad. The Tremont House hotel, which stood on Lake Street was also a vital station.
Quinn chapel, which thrives to this day, ran their haven where the Modnodnock building now stands in the south loop.
Although they faced the risk of being fined $1,000 or six months in jail, this Underground Railroad was a story of heroes. Brave Chicagoans who risked their own liberty to help those seeking freedom.
There were many important stations on the Underground Railroad including Hinsdale’s Graue Mill and the Blodgett house in Downer’s Grove.
Sherry Williams, from the Bronzeville Historical Society, revealed that the people who operated on this road also used quilts with secret messages woven into them to signal a safe spot or warn the freedom seeker of nearby danger.
“They had a very strong network of those who wanted to provide food and shelter and safety. And Chicago did it well. Did it very well,” Williams said.