During the 1850s and 1860s, the Underground Railroad was a network of individuals and groups that provided shelter and guidance for runaway slaves as they made their way to freedom. Because the Underground Railroad was secretive, no one knows for sure how many hundreds or perhaps thousands of slaves it freed.
Nearly 50 sites in Kansas that represent hiding places and trails have been documented. Runaway slaves escaped along a series of routes that stretched through neighboring states. Most of them traveled at night.
The latest account of the Underground Railroad in Kansas was written by Charles Frederick William Leonhardt about a journey in June 1860. In a news release from the Kansas Historical Society, it said the document was placed online to commemorate Black History Month.
“The last Train that passed over the Under Ground Rail Road from Kansas Territory, received full freight and Passengers, on Wednesday June the 13th 1860 the Union Depot Wakarusa,” Leonhardt writes. “The Shareholders of Kansas Under Ground Rail Roads were a most remarkable Class of men. Their Charter, they alleged was granted unto them by their Creator.”