Albion’s Mother’s Day Founder, Juliette Calhoun Blakeley is described on a historical marker near the library, on S. Ionia St and E. Erie. Few people know that Juliette was also very involved in the underground railroad. Her home was one of the Underground Railroad Stations.
From Frank Passic’s history:
“The original Blakeley home stood on the southeast corner of W. Cass and S. Clinton Sts., the present site of a city parking lot across from the fire station. Mrs. Blakeley allowed her house to serve as one of the local hiding stations for the so-called “Underground Railroad” which transported fugitive slaves to safety in Canada. The entire Blakeley family was involved in the operation out of their home. The family would hide the fugitives in the bottom of their wagon under bags of grain, or covered with ears of corn, and transport them along the predetermined route.
Julia’s son Charles Blakeley (1852-1935) often served as the driver. On one particular mission when he was accompanied by his father, Charles was held up by slave catchers who, in their search for fugitives, poked long sharp sticks through a visible bottom coop-type area covered by grain sacks, located under the wagon. They found no one however, because the slaves were hidden higher up under the main portion of the wagon. The artificial coop had been purposely placed there to distract the slave catchers.”
Used with permission – source: http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_notebook/030511b.shtml
A group of Michigan Historians is tracing more of the fascinating ethnic history of this region and we hope to publish some of their findings as this site grows.