Maine’s Underground Railroad, Part Two

Joy Hollowell

Updated 6 years ago

For three and a half decades, the Underground Railroad ran through 14 northern states, including Maine.Slaves often travelled by night, guided by word of mouth as to which homes were safe to stay in.When Greg and Connie Henderson purchased their 1817 home, they figured there was a lot of history in the walls.Turns out, that’s exactly where they discovered pieces of the past that the Hendersons believe, link their home to the underground railroad.Tonight, Joy Hollowell concludes her special report on Maine’s role in the freedom trail.++++++++++++++”When we walked in here, we felt the love and the warmth that had penetrated the whole structure of the home,” says Greg Henderson.Shortly after moving in, Connie and Greg Henderson learned that their Dixmont home was once a stop for stage coaches.”The upstairs had an open area, you could see tracks where the bed rolls had been laid out,” says Greg Henderson.Several years ago, Greg decided to re-plane those worn floors and replace some loose ones directly over their chimney.”I didn’t really think much of it, I just thought maybe they needed to be able to check the chimney out,” says Greg Henderson.But when Greg started cleaning the area, he found a whole lot more than cobwebs. Tucked between the walls were two shoes.”these were well worn shoes, they travelled,” says Connie Henderson.There was also a clay pipe.”there’s still tobacco inside,” says Connie Henderson.Nearby, a fiddle bow, frame to a slate board and a children’s geography book with a copyright of 1847.”old maps, really old maps.”There was also an old straw hat. A hole was poked on each side of it, and a long horse strap had been threaded through. Inside, were corn cobs and ham bones.”i’m clueing in that something there was something that has really going on here. Then, as we talked, we figured it out,” says Greg Henderson.The Hendersons now believe their home was part of Maine’s Underground Railroad.”There was a large enough area for people to be in, and hid,” says Greg Henderson.The straw hat was most likely filled with food, then lowered into the hidden room.”It really gets your mind thinking about what went on back then,” says Greg Henderson.There’s also a sort of trap door inside the kitchen cupboard. At first, Connie thought it was used to check on the chimney. “Until I realized that if I stood behind the door, and people were sitting at the kitchen table in the middle of the kitchen, they would not have been able to see what I was doing behind that door,” says Connie Henderson.Connie surmised the owners would secretly pass food through that small door.The Hendersons say its an honor to live in this house, knowing the courage and strength it took, to carry out the mission of the underground railroad.”When you take in complete strangers that are on the run, for their life, for their freedom, and you have to be really understanding and loving to do that. And that’s what this house represents,” says Greg Henderson.===========While researching the history on their home, Connie Henderson learned why she felt so close to it.Turns out that at one time, relatives of Connie’s great, great grandmother, lived in the home.


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