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Thu, 03.19.1835

Nathan Thomas House opens

*The opening of the Nathan Thomas House is celebrated on this date in 1835. 

This was the location of one of Michigan's most active Underground Railroad stations.  Dr. Nathan M. and Pamela Brown Thomas created the refuge.  Built in 1835, he constructed a building that served as both an office and residence. Five years later he enlarged the house when he married Pamela Brown of nearby Prairie Ronde township. Her memoirs, written in 1892, provide much information on her and her husband's activities as abolitionist.  

Referring to Dr. Thomas' early days in Schoolcraft, before their marriage and the construction of his office and residence in 1835, Mrs. Thomas wrote, "His antislavery views were so well known, that, while he was a bachelor boarding at the hotel, fugitives from slavery had called on him for assistance and protection."  By the mid-1840s, a group of abolitionists in southwest Michigan had created an organized system for transporting fugitive slaves. Slaves were often brought to the Thomas House by Zachariah Shugart, a fellow Quaker living on Young's Prairie, Cass County. Dr. Thomas would then shuttle the runaways to Erastus Hussey, another fellow Quaker living in Battle Creek.

The slaves would eventually make their way to Detroit and onto freedom in Canada.  Pamela Brown Thomas estimated that between 1840 and 1860 she and her husband helped between 1,000 to 1,500 fugitive slaves escape into freedom.

The Dr. Nathan Thomas House is located at 613 East Cass Street in Schoolcraft, Michigan. Tours are available by appointment by writing to Schoolcraft Historical Society, P.O. Box 638, Schoolcraft, Michigan 49087.

Reference:

NPS.gov

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