Local Site Achieves National Designation as Significant Underground Railroad Site

Timothy Townsend of the National Park Service; Ronald Gaines, Jan & Aagje Ton Farm property owner; Congresswoman Robin Kelly; Professor Larry McClellan and Tom Shepherd of the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project.
Left to right: Timothy Townsend of the National Park Service; Ronald Gaines, Jan & Aagje Ton Farm property owner; Congresswoman Robin Kelly; Professor Larry McClellan and Tom Shepherd of the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project. (PHOTO SUPPLIED)

Chicago, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The National Park Service has accepted the Jan and Aagje Ton Farm Site to be included in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom registry. The NPS has found that the location “makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the Underground Railroad in American history and that it meets the requirements for inclusion as a site.”

The Ton Farm site is located roughly at 134th Street and St. Lawrence Avenue and originally contained 40 acres along the north bank of the Little Calumet River during the period of the 1840s until the Civil War. It has been documented that this was an important “station” on the Underground Railroad network prior to Emancipation, and had been a “safe house” for countless numbers of Freedom Seekers / fugitive slaves that were seeking independence during their perilous journeys to Canada and other safe places in the northern states.

The documentation had been submitted by Professor Larry McClellan (retired), the foremost authority on the Underground Railroad in northern Illinois, who had been researching this site and others in the region for years. McClellan had done the research on behalf of landowner Ronald Gaines, as well as the Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project.

The Ton Farm is the third documented site in the area south of Chicago to gain such recognition, joining two other sites that had been selected earlier for the national registry: the Crete Congregational Church and Cemetery, and the I & M Canal Headquarters in Lockport. Both had been thoroughly researched and applied for by Prof. McClellan.

The Little Calumet River Underground Railroad Project has been conducting tours and educational events in recent years and endeavors to see a monument dedicated to Freedom Seekers and local abolitionists who risked everything to assist escaped slaves who traveled through the area. An announcement celebration was held at the Pullman National Monument Visitor Center on Sunday.

This news is from the Jan and Aagje Ton Farm Site.

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