My thanks to all the folks who continue to add reported sites to my growing list of “safe houses” in Maine’s extraordinary Underground Railroad that helped fugitive slaves escape to Canada in the 1800s.
Feedback is never the same no matter where I speak on the topic of my novel, True North: Tice’s Story.
A full theater-seated room at Skidompha Library in Damariscotta revealed two new “safe houses” — one in that town and another in Thomaston.
A packed house for the Joshua Chamberlain Roundtable at Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick included one lady whose Dad had taken her into Brunswick’s amazing mile-long escape tunnel when she was a child; a woman who confirmed earlier reports of a second safe house in Wiscasset besides Castle Tucker; and a gentleman who had a lead on another site on the west side of the Kennebec River in Augusta.
The Kennebec Historical Society seated a record crowd, including a gentleman who reported his home on Summer Street in Augusta had been a safe house. More on that when confirmed.
Together, we’re filling out the known way stations for those scores of frightened fugitives escaping slavery, many of whom were being chased by slave hunters.
The number of safe houses in Maine has mounted to more than 80 from Kittery to Ft. Fairfield and even up in Ft. Kent.
This was an important period in Maine and America’s history — a time forgotten in Maine history textbooks. And we should not forget history or… what? (We will be “condemned to repeat it.”)
It’s uplifting that so many men and women put their fortunes, and families, in danger to help others when they did not have to. They allowed their consciences to overcome their fears.
I hope we all contemplate the question: Would I do the same? Would I be prepared for perilous times that might come? Would I face dread consequences for helping a person in trouble?
Some of the full house at the Joshua chamberlain Round table in Brunswick, Maine.