Was ‘Freedom’ the Final Stop on the Underground Railroad? Cheboygan County, Michigan
The town is called ‘Freedom’ and many local residents believe the name was aptly dubbed.
Not to be confused with Freedom Township in Washtenaw County, or the former ‘Freedom’ (now Fawn River) in St. Joseph County, this particular ‘Freedom’ sits along Lake Huron in Cheboygan County, just a stone’s throw from Mackinaw City.
Easily seen alongside US-23, Freedom is said to have been the final Michigan stop for the Underground Railroad. As the escaped slaves made their way thru the state via the Underground Railroad toward their own personal freedoms, it was at this location where they ended up, boarding a boat or ship to take them to their final destination: Canada and a new life.
The town once had a post office, railway depot, one-room school, and store. It’s a good bet that the yellow building on the east side of the road was used as a combination of general store and post office. Across the street from the building is where the railroad station used to sit, which also doubled as a telegraph office. The old one-room schoolhouse has been moved and is easy to visit at Mackinaw City’s Historic Village just west of town.
While the Underground Railroad aspect is widely believed by many, there are others who aren’t buying it. The Civil War ended in 1865, ending much UR activity. The first settler of the village of Freedom is said to be Charles Kniffin, who came to the area in 1875. So, non-believers debate ‘how could the UR Freedom Station exist if the town didn’t yet exist?’
4 ½ miles south is Point Nipigon, where it is said that fires were lit, alerting rescuers from Bois Blanc Island to bring the boat over, take escapees to the island, and on to Canada from there.
Where chronologically the facts may not match up, but both arguments may easily be correct. The village of Freedom may not have grown until 1875, but that does not mean there wasn’t a station for runaway slaves at that location a couple of decades earlier.
The debate continues among the few.
The gallery below shows a few photos of what to look for when looking for ‘Freedom’.
Freedom, Michigan: Underground Railroad Destination?
Michigan's Smallest County: Cass
The Ideal Bar, Once Used By the Purple Gang for Rumrunning
Jackson's First Place to be Named After an African-American: 1964