TOPEKA, Kan. — A house that was part of the Underground Railroad has been dedicated as an official site along a new Kansas trail linking historical places related to African-American history.
The Kansas African American History Trail officially opened last month as a partnership of 18 historic sites across Kansas, including Topeka’s Brown v. Board of Education historic site.
On Sunday, the Shawnee County Historical Society officially added the Ritchie House during a dedication in Topeka, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported . The event allowed visitors to explore the historic home where John and Mary Jane Ritchie helped escaped slaves flee to Nebraska.
The local historian’s president, George Bernheimer, noted during the event that visitors come to learn about the Ritchies’ courage, but also about the bravery of those who fled captivity.
“It took a great deal of courage for someone in bondage, somewhere to make that conscious decision that they were going to change their situation, and to take that first step and move toward making that become a reality,” he said. “So this site not only honors the Ritchies, but actually honors all of those people.”
Other sites along the trail include Nicodemus, a community in northern Kansas established by African Americans following the Civil War, and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
“If you start down in south Kansas and work your way up, Fort Scott, for example, is the location for the raising of one of the first African-American regiments that were a part of the Civil War,” Bernheimer said. “It’s not all focused on one era.”
Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com