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Odd Wisconsin Archive

Slaves, Graves, and Knaves

The Milton House is the only stop on the Underground Railroad known to have actually had an underground refuge. Joseph Goodrich, a staunch abolitionist, operated the Milton House as an inn before the Civil War. He fed and sheltered escaping slaves in its basement rooms, and to protect them from unexpected discovery by other guests he excavated a tunnel to a log cabin behind the inn. When the tunnel was discovered 80 years later it contained the skeletons of six people thought to have died in an 1850 cholera outbreak. Spending a long night in the subterranean darkness with six corpses while hostile pursuers searched for you upstairs must have been a harrowing experience for Americans seeking their freedom in the 1850s. To learn what happened to a Kentucky slave master who came to nearby Janesville in pursuit of a slave, read this article in Turning Points in Wisconsin History.
:: Posted in Curiosities on January 27, 2005
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