A historic cemetery in Jackson is being recognized by the National Park Service for its contributions to the Underground Railroad. Buried in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery are seven people who played important parts in the Underground Railroad in Jackson County. The National Park Service recently notified the City of Jackson that an application to be included in the park service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom was approved. This means Mt. Evergreen Cemetery will now be placed on a list of national sites important to the Underground Railroad. The goal of the Network to Freedom is to promote and preserve sites important to the Underground Railroad so the public can be educated on its significance.
Jackson was an active stop on the Underground Railroad, which was a secret network organized by people who helped men, women and children escape from slavery prior to the end of the Civil War. Charles and Mary DeLand, Norman Allen, Abel Fitch, Lonson Wilcox and Seymour Treadwell, who are all buried at Mt. Evergreen, are known to have helped escaped slaves make their way through Jackson and on to freedom. Emma Nichols is an escaped slave who is also buried at the cemetery. Reports indicate she came to Jackson on the Underground Railroad after escaping slavery in Virginia. Nichols lived out the rest of her life in Jackson, passing away in 1916.
The National Park Service reviewed the cemetery’s history and determined that it made a significant contribution to the understanding of the Underground Railroad in American history and met requirements to be included in the Network to Freedom. The City of Jackson Parks and Recreation Department applied for Mt. Evergreen to be included. Parks and Recreation Director Kelli Hoover says the City is delighted with the approval. “We are honored that our local history is getting national attention and pleased that these brave men and women are getting the recognition they deserve,” Hoover said.
Mt. Evergreen was given statewide recognition earlier this spring, when a State of Michigan Historical Marker was placed in the cemetery that also honors the Underground Railroad participants buried there. Click on this link to learn more about the Network to Freedom.