The National Parks service just added sixteen new listings to the register of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and among them are two Michigan burial sites. In a fitting tribute, the news was announced on what would have been Harriet Tubman's 200th birthday.

According to the National Parks website, the Parks system's involvement with the Underground Railroad, "began in response to Public Law 101-628...enacted in November 1990, which directed the agency to alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the Underground Railroad." The goal of the program is to preserve, educate, and allow the further research of this pivotal point of American history.

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Elijah Fish and George Taylor

The burial sites of both Elijah Fish and George Taylor are among the sixteen new designations, with both men's final resting place located within the Greenwood Cemetery in Birmingham, MI.

Elijah Fish was a white man and abolitionist who founded the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham. Fish was very active in the anti-slavery movement in the 1840s and in 1845 he represented Oakland County at the Michigan State Anti-Slavery Society convention in Marshall, MI.

George Taylor was born into slavery in Kentucky and is believed to have escaped through the Underground Railroad to Canada with his soon-to-be wife Eliza in 1855 when he was in his mid-40s. George and Eliza eventually settled in the Birmingham area in 1893 where they lived out their days and were revered members of their community.

George Getschman, a board member of the Friends of the Birmingham Museum, told the publication Hometown Life that, "The fondness and respect the community had for the Taylors was evident as they are referred to in their obituaries as a 'venerable' couple and George Taylor is called 'Uncle George' and 'old friend.'"

Addition sites added to the Network to Freedom include:

  • Spring Grove Cemetery (Ohio)
  • Huntoon-Van Rensalier Underground Railroad Site (New Jersey)
  • Port Tobacco Jail Sites (Maryland)

Says Diane Miller, a national manager of the program,

The freedom seekers and allies highlighted in each Network to Freedom listing remind us of what can be accomplished when people take action against injustice. Each listing holds a unique part of the Underground Railroad story, and we look forward to working with members to amplify the power of these places.

 

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