Touring Indiana’s Underground Railroad

By Erin Lattimer and Hannah Scherer

On the far east side of Notre Dame’s campus lies the Thomas Bulla Farmhouse and surrounding Bulla Road. While students drive the latter frequently, the former is hardly mentioned, visited, or recognized, despite both structures’ namesake acting as a major abolitionist in the era of the Underground Railroad.

The University of Notre Dame has a major part of history on its campus, and it’s largely bypassed by the casual observer.

Even some Notre Dame students in the History Department say they have little to no knowledge regarding the area’s history related to the Underground Railroad.

Senior history major Joe DeLuca said believes local history is essential for the greater understanding of a culture: “If you look at a lot of the smaller scale stuff, it can really flesh out the story a lot more. Entire sections of history would have been lost.”

Notre Dame is not the only location in the now Michiana or even Indiana region that contains rich details of Underground Railroad history. Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) as well as the The National Park Service have worked to create a comprehensive registry of Indiana’s Underground Railroad locations and features of several Indiana regions.


Check out this Storymap to see where the following Underground Railroad locations are in Indiana.

Southern Indiana features the Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building and the Georgetown Neighborhood in Madison, Indiana. Serving as a museum today, Eleutherian College was symbolically built on top of a hill. Its own museum web page states that Eleutherian decided this to demonstrate its commitment to “individual equality, education, and equal opportunity without regard to race or gender.”

Many fugitives who traveled along this route continued north via Indianapolis. The Georgetown Neighborhood in Madison, Indiana––right on the southernmost border––was at one point populated with abolitionists and freedom seekers. Even today, the Indiana DNR states many of the original homes and churches from the Underground Railroad era still stand in this neighborhood. This includes Lyman and Asenath Hoyt, who would hide fugitives in their family barn loft or cave on their Madison, Indiana, property between 1830 and 1856.

In the central part of the state, the Bethel AME Church and the Levi Coffin House once served as Underground Railroad locations. Before it was sold to a private firm in 2016, the Bethel AME Church in downtown Indianapolis was known as the “Indianapolis Station” after it was founded in 1836, but was rebuilt in 1867. The Levi Coffin House located near Richmond, Indiana, also played a significant role in African American slaves’ paths to the north during this time, reportedly assisting over 2,000 slaves to freedom.

Before crossing the border into Michigan, thousands of African American fugitives finally traveled through various areas of northern Indiana. The DNR states that just south of the Michigan border and on the shores of Lake Michigan, Daniel Low helped fugitives escape to Michigan or Canada by bringing them from his estate and hiding them on board grain boats at the Michigan City harbor.

“It’s kind of skewed; there were a few routes. [They] came through Michigan city, [some] into Niles, and some came through a part of Indiana that lead into Bristol that then went into Michigan,” local historian Verge “Brother Sage” Gillam said. “There was no specific route like 31 or 933. It was really interesting, because to get away [from this area] we had to do whatever was Kosher, and we knew that Indiana was not a safe state.”

Photo by Hannah Scherer. On the porch of his South Bend home, Verge “Brother Sage” Gillam shares the history he’s long worked to put together.

Photo by Erin Lattimer: Brother Sage stressed the necessity of digesting local history through public resources. Examples include auction block documents and a book of research and maps provided by the Department of Natural Resources.

To the east in Fremont, Indiana, at the Erastus Farnham House, the historic cupola on top of the house served as a watchdog vantage point in order to keep the fugitives he aided safe. Only about 13 miles west is the house of Captain Samuel Barry who, despite being arrested for his actions, frequently provided shelter to fugitive slaves.

Still close by in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, the Alexander T Rankin house is, per the Indiana DNR, currently the only known structure still standing in Ft. Wayne that was a part of the Underground Railroad. Likewise, as previously noted, Notre Dame’s Thomas Bulla House was where Bulla and his family aided runaway slaves and still stands amongst residential living buildings on the campus.

Brother Sage has spent the last 10 years putting together the story of the Underground Railroad’s presence in the Northwest Territory, more specifically the St. Joe Valley Region.

This area, what is now northwestern Indiana and southwestern Michigan, saw the passage of tens of thousands of slaves from slave territory to the free land. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that the No. 1 region for runaway slaves was the Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri region… to think that 75,000 people escaped that particular region is so awe-inspiring. These stories need to be told,” Sage said.

South Bend also was home to plenty of abolition-era dramatics, with the South Bend Presbyterian Church halting slave catchers from removing runaways from free-Michigan back to slave-Kentucky.

“[The church] went to court and won their suit, and the slaves went back to Michigan,” Sage said. “The slave catchers went back to Kent, complained about it, came back to South Bend and sued that church. [They] ended up winning that suit. We’d like to put a historical marker [at the church] because that history is well documented.”

But auction-block documents printed by what is now known as the South Bend Tribune have also been discovered. These flyers advertise the sale of Michiana-area men, women and children, cementing the fact that the oppression was local. “This just goes to show how rough it was on us, what kinds of things we had to go through [in this area], and why it’s important for us to talk more about this from the standpoint of whoever you are,” he said.  

Sage stressed the necessity to rectify an ignorance of history by sharing these stories and this knowledge through education and traditional schooling. While information on these historical locations is becoming more available through online registries, Indiana’s regional history in terms of the Underground Railroad has not shown to be well-known.They don’t know what we had to go through in order to be free, they don’t know anything about the real bigotry or prejudice we went through, or they don’t know anything about the history [of the Underground Railroad,]” Sage said.

Lacking such pertinent historical information takes away part of a community’s culture. This causes the loss of a potential lesson learned, or an honorable historical connection. “[The Thomas Bulla House] can be a source of pride for the community and the people who live here that we played a significant role in helping free slaves, not mentioning it is a very interesting topic of discussion around campus,” Lew said.

“None of this is in the schools; you probably heard nothing about these details in high school or even at the University of Notre Dame,” Sage said. “More emphasis should be put into this, because I think we’re a remarkable people, and we’ve shown how to survive the Holocaust of enslavement.”

Graphic by Hannah Scherer.

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CDC Report: America’s Drunkest Cities

By Erin Lattimer

DUI’s account for an average 28 deaths per day in the United States. Despite the increase in cab-like services such as Uber, 2016 was predicted to be one of the worst years to date for drunk driving deaths.

Ten U.S. cities that are considered to be the worst DUI offenders were compiled based on various facts such as DUI arrests, binge drinking ranks, and deaths from DUI accents. Check this Storify post to see which cities deemed the most dangerous by the CDC for DUI’s in the United States.

Trump Accuses Obama of Wiretapping

On Saturday President Trump accused former President Obama of wiretapping him during the 2016 election cycle via Twitter. Many news outlets are frustrated by this avenue of accusation because no public evidence was provided to support his claim.

Republican Congressional leaders appear to be supportive of an investigation and ask that judgments on the matter be restrained until all evidence and facts can be compiled and released to the public.

However, as of Sunday, Director of the FBI James Comey has asked the Department of Justice to ignore President Trump’s accusations as they suggest unlawfulness by the FBI without proper evidence.

Read more about this story through this Storify post.

Indiana’s Underground Railroad

By Erin Lattimer

Due north of slave-owning state Kentucky, Indiana was an intuitive route for slaves seeking freedom in Canada during the 1860s. Stations were located across the state and were mainly only known by word-of-mouth.

The map below lists just a few of the Underground Railroad sites recorded in Indiana. Secrecy for protection led to little documentation of the sites, but organizations like Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service attempt to keep a running list of documented Underground Railroad sites. These services are used to create the pinpoints on this map.

List of Underground Railroad Sites pinpointed:
Alexander T Rankin House
A member of Indiana’s Antislavery Society, Alexander Rankin was the only recorded person to also participate in Ohio’s Antislavery Society.

Bethel AME Church
This church was known as the “Indianapolis Station” and founded in 1836. After a fire in 1862, it was rebuilt in 1867. In 2016 it was sold to a private firm.

Captain Samuel Barry’s Home
One of the original founders of the town, Orland, Captain Samuel Barry’s home frequently gave refuge to escaped slaves.

Daniel Low Estate
Either by hiding them on board grain boats or sneaking them on to trains heading for Michigan and Canada, Daniel Low assisted approximately 150 slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building
Symbolically built on top of a hill to demonstrate its commitment to “individual equality, education, and equal opportunity without regard to race or gender,” Eleutherian College was a well-known stop on the Underground Railroad for fugitives traveling through Madison to Indianapolis.

Erastus Farnham House
One of the leaders of the Underground Railroad movement in Fremont, Indiana, Erastus Farnham hid fugitives in his house and kept watch for slave catchers from the cupola on his roof.

Georgetown Neighborhood
At one point populated with abolitionists and freedom seekers, most of the original homes and churches from the Underground Railroad era still stand in this neighborhood.

Levi Coffin House
Owner Levi Coffin has been termed “president” of the Underground Railroad for assisting over 2,000 slaves to freedom as well as supporting other Underground Railroad stations throughout the North.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House
Between 1830 and 1856 Lyman and Asenath Hoyt along with their seven children volunteered their home and property as a station of the Underground Railroad, hiding fugitives in their barn or a cave located on their land.

Thomas Bulla House
Owner Thomas Bulla and his family used their home to aid runaway slaves. The home is located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Coca-Cola Doesn’t Need a Halftime Show

By Erin Lattimer

For years the debate has been Coke verses Pepsi. Which is actually better? Research demonstrates that Coca-Cola has control over the soft drink market in past years. However, Pepsi has recently been attempting to combat that by again sponsoring the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

This year’s show featured a well-received Lady Gaga and had fans talking of the performance for days after it aired.

But did Pepsi’s attempt to boost their traffic through Super Bowl sponsorship really work? Google Trends data suggests that while Pepsi received a spike in web searches for their product the day after the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola still received more of the total share of searches.

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Google Trends data comparing searches for Coca-Cola verses Pepsi. Source.

This proves interesting since Coca-Cola only presented a one-minute ad during the game verses Pepsi’s sponsorship of the entire half time performance. Despite more airtime, a live celebrity performance, and multiple announcements of the brand name, Pepsi still fell short in search returns to Coca-Cola.

Nevertheless it should also be noted that there are definitely other factors of the ad campaigns and products that may have influenced the Google Trends data. Web searches may also not fully capture the return that both Pepsi and Coca-Cola received from their Super Bowl investments.

So is it really worth it for Pepsi to continually spend so much money on sponsoring the Half Time Show every year? Share your opinion in the poll and comments section below!

Valentine’s Gifts: Flowers vs. Chocolate

By Erin Lattimer

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and many times that comes with the dilemma: What gift should I get? In recent years Americans have spent approximately $18 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts of all sorts. What could Americans possibly have spent this on?

A survey suggests that flowers and chocolate or candy are two of the most popular gift choices for the holiday every year. These are traditionally the first types of gifts that may cross one’s mind when deciding on purchasing something special.

Not surprisingly, based on Google Trends data, the days surrounding Valentine’s Day are some one of (if not) the most popular days to search for flowers and chocolates. The graph below showcases the number of searches for flowers to chocolate and clearly demonstrates the peaks in the items’ popularity right around the February 14 date.

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A Google Trends graph comparing the number of search results of flowers and chocolate. Source.

However, an interesting note is chocolate’s apparent dominance over flowers in web searches since the aforementioned survey claims flowers to be the more popular gift (at least among males). So is chocolate really the better gift for Valentine’s Day? Or do more folks search for chocolate online because it is harder to find quality candy in stores when you can pick up a bouquet of flowers from the grocery on your way home from work? Share your opinion in the poll and comments as well as if you think there is really one item that makes the best Valentine’s Day gift!

Practice Post

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at RedLineProject.org

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

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