Slave Haven Underground Railroad

At one time, Cotton was King in Memphis. For hundreds of years, African people were shipped across the seas to America and sold into the booming slave trade that ensured the Delta’s cash crops were planted, tended and harvested; the city of Memphis rapidly became Tennessee’s leader in the trade business. Eventually, the anti-slave movement saw the uprising of noble citizens who enlisted themselves in the abolition wars to assist runaways seeking their freedom in the Northern states. Jacob Burkle, German immigrant and stockyard owner, was one of them, a man who risked his life and livelihood to help slaves on their way by operating an “underground railroad station” from his modest home near the banks of the Mississippi. Visitors to the Burkle Estate, just a few minutes from iconic Beale Street, are treated to a well-presented tour of the white clapboard house and grounds, wonderfully preserved and recreated in the manner of its day of service with historical documents, period furniture, quilts and other relevant artwork and well-attended by knowledgeable guides who supply – in animated detail – heartrending stories of the dark days of slavery during Jacob Burkle’s time, and the way in which many were aided, en route to possible freedom, with safe haven provided in his home. Guests will learn how slaves creatively transmitted coded information to escape captivity, and see the cellar, crawl spaces and secret passages they used to hide in the Burkle home before continuing their perilous journey North.

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