Jacksonville's Historic Underground Railroad
Underground Railroad Tours and Chili Supper Set for Sunday 8 November 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 October 2009 15:49
            Jacksonville’s important link to the Underground Railroad in Illinois will be explored in detail Sunday, November 8, when nine local sites that provided safe haven for runaway slaves will be on tour.


            The tours will begin at 1 p.m. at Beecher Hall on the campus of Illinois College and end at approximately 5 p.m.  Included in the price of the tickets will be a bus tour and a hearty chili supper and dessert.  The limited number of bus tickets will also include stops at four of the sites where costumed guides will be waiting to take the riders into the houses and tell their stories of rescue and secret hiding places. Guides will also accompany each bus group and point out other locations in Jacksonville that were part of the Underground Railroad.


            The bus tour tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for youngsters between the ages of 6 and 12.  Admission is free to children age five and under. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau, 310 E. State St.; Festival Foods, 1255 W. Morton, and All Occasions Florist, 635 E. Morton Ave.


            Tickets will also be sold at Beecher Hall starting at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 8, but only the first 50 advance tickets holders will be guaranteed a place on one of the two buses scheduled for the event.


            Upon departing from Beecher Hall after a brief presentation of its central role in the Underground Railroad, buses will transport ticketholders to four other sites: The Dr. Bezaleel Gillett House at 1005 Grove St., the Congregational Church at 520 W. College Ave., the General Grierson Manson at 852 E. State St.,  and Woodlawn Farm, located just east of the city. Guided tours will take place at each site. The buses are also scheduled to make brief stops at the Asa Talcott House at 859 Grove St. and the Porter Clay House at 1019 W. State St.  Tour guides on each bus will explain the significance of the “Africa” community in Jacksonville and the Henry Irving House at 711 W. Beecher.


            Tickets and maps will also be sold at the Gillett House, the Congregational Church, the Grierson Mansion and Woodlawn Farm for those who prefer to provide their own transportation.


            The Underground Railroad Committee of the Morgan County Historical Society is sponsoring the tour and open houses at the four inside locations. Between 3 and 5 p.m., a home cooked meal of chili, corn bread, relishes and beverages will be served at the Congregational Church with dessert and other refreshments served at Woodlawn Farm. A large campfire on the grounds of Woodlawn Farm will serve as a signal that open house activities are underway.


            Additional information is available by contacting the Jacksonville Convention and Visitors Bureau at 243-5678, or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated on Monday, 02 November 2009 22:56
Woodlawn Farm re-opens for summer 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 19 June 2009 19:42



 Historic Woodlawn Farm reopens for tours 

      Woodlawn Farm has an improved appearance this summer as the historic site near Jacksonville reopens for public tours.  

      Renovation work on the 19th century farm house that was completed late last fall included the complete restoration of the first- and second-story windows on the building’s north side – the portion motorists on nearby Interstate 72 can view as they drive past the location. Crews also restored the main entrance to the building and completed a comprehensive tuck-pointing project. 

      Woodlawn Farm was built in the 1840s and reportedly served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Guides in period costume will lead tours of the farm house from 1 to 4 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through the end of August. The suggested donation is $3.  

      The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007 and is operated by the Underground Railroad Committee of the Morgan County Historical Society. 

      Signs directing visitors to Woodlawn Farm are located along Old Route 36 at the intersection with Arnold Road, a short distance east of the Jacksonville Correctional Center. Information regarding group tours is available by calling 243-5938 or the Jacksonville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at 243-5678.  

      Tour guides will describe the role that original owners Michael and Jane Huffaker played in developing the 19th century farmstead and their efforts in assisting runaway slaves traveling along the Underground Railroad.  

      Efforts continue to completely restore the structure to its original condition. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provided a $75,000 matching grant in 2007 that made it possible for the owners to replace the roof and complete major structural repairs. Volunteers who staff the site and operate the Underground Railroad Committee are seeking financial assistance to finish restoring all of the building’s windows.  

      The staff of tour guides at Woodlawn Farm for the summer includes Illinois College junior Nicole Clemens of Fairview Heights. She will complete an internship at the site during the summer months. The Underground Railroad Committee operates a Web site at www.woodlawnfarm.com, and can be reached via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . 


Fall Festival PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 September 2009 04:06

Our first Fall Festival on Sunday, September 27. Come and visit Woodlawn Farm against an autumn backdrop that will feature music (including Ken Bradbury), a visit from Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman, a demonstration of 19th century rifles and pistols by a local gunsmith, and our first public showing of the vintage farm equipment given to us by our good friends at the Prairieland Heritage Museum

 Flyer available here.



 The Fall Festival was a success - pictures here.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 October 2009 18:55

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