Did You Know That Grand Rapids Was A Stop On The Underground Railroad?
The Department of Natural Resources is highlighting the local Michigan history of the Underground Railroad.
The Underground Railroad extended from the Southern part of the United States to the northern states and Canada.
The Michigan DNR created an interactive map that shows all of the verified stops on the Underground Railroad within the state, in collaboration with the Michigan History Center and the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission.
Many towns in Michigan were part of the Underground Railroad. There are endless accounts about our state's importance to this secret network that aided thousands of people on their journey to freedom.
These organizations organized 24 stories that they followed on this map, including one about an escaped slave who moved to Grand Rapids.
This slave's name was Isaac Bailey. He escaped from slavery in 1852, trying to protect himself from the overseer's abuse.
According to the DNR map,
When the Civil War broke out, Bailey volunteered for the First New York Cavalry as a horse keeper. He joined the 102nd Colored Infantry in January 1863, just weeks after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation permitting Black and Native Americans to officially enlist.
After the war, Isaac Bailey lived in Grand Haven with his wife, Clarissa Bordley. The couple later moved to the city of Grand Rapids around 1868 with their six children.
Grand Rapids is where Issac Bailey continued to live his life until his death at 105 years old in 1921.
As of today, Isaac Bailey's grave can be found on the north side of Oakhill Cemetery in Lot 1. His grave can be visited from dawn until dusk.
The crazy yet beautiful thing is there are plenty of other stories intertwined with the Underground Railroad all over West Michigan.
Just because February is ending, does not mean that Black History gets swept under the rug.
Learn the REAL history of our country all 365 days of the year, not just 28.