This portrait of Juliette Calhoun Blakeley is in the Gardner House Museum.
On May 13, 1877, the second Sunday of the month, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped into the pulpit of the Methodist-Episcopal Church and completed the sermon for the Reverand Myron Daughterty. According to local legend, Daughterty was distraught because an antitemperance group had forced his son to spend the night in a saloon.
Proud of their mother’s achievement, Charles and Moses Blakeley encouraged other to pay tribute to their mothers. In the 1880’s the Albion Methodist church began celebrating Mother’s Day in Blakeley’s honor.
From Frank Passic’s historical essay:
“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.
Years later when Mrs. Blakeley was publicly honored by her church, two local black youth, Wilbur Moore and Claude Thomas, ages three and four respectively, were given the honor of pulling a rope which unfurled a large American flag at the church. This was done in recognition of Mrs. Blakeley’s participation in the Underground Railroad many years earlier.
Unfortunately, the original Blakeley home at 121 W. Cass/103 S. Clinton St. that served as an Underground Railroad stop here was demolished years ago.”
History by Frank Passic. Used with permission. Source: http://www.albionmich.com/history/histor_notebook/030511b.shtml