June 05, 2020
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Comments for: ‘North to Freedom’ statue in Brewer only official Maine memorial to Underground Railroad

  • Anonymous

    I appreciate the reasons for locating the statue there, but it’s almost impossible to visit since it’s up against the street and no parking nearby.

    • Anonymous

      There’s a parking lot right next to it, next to Irving.

      • Anonymous

        Sorry, thought that was Irving’s lot.  And, is there a sidewalk down to the statue?

  • Anonymous

    Maybe Clint Eastwood could be asked by the Maine GOP to offer his insights into the Underground Railroad to complement his comments about President Obama in Tampa. 

    • Anonymous

       Do you think that Harriet Tubman would approve of enslaving ourselves with debt?

  • Guest

    There is no documented evdence because there was no underground railroad in Maine. With so many other free states so much closer to Canada, why risk traveling hundreds of extra miles to go through Maine? This is all a figment of one man’s imagination and the BDN should stop encouraging him with wasted coverage. If someone was smuggling a slave don’t you think they would have given them a new shirt by the time they reached Brewer? Let it go, Dick. There is significant oral tradition about the Easter Bunny, too, but that doesn’t make him real.

    • Anonymous

      The reporter neglects to mention that dye was poured into the well (that’s what it was) and it never appeared in the river, casting severe doubt that the shaft (well) was a secret entrance from a tunnel that led from the waterfront.

      And, of course, the underground railroad wasn’t literally underground (or a railroad)…

      • Briney

        The tunnel could have been blocked.  

    • Anonymous

      Actually if you read any census from back in the 1800’s you’ll see Maine had a large African American population. Portland and Aroostock had the largest. Some slaves felt safer in numbers and others thought not. You’d find that often there would be only one family in one area. Many slaves in Aroostock County worked the potato fields. Maine Memory Network has photos.
       There was a man who moved to Bangor who brought slaves in the 1800 and Bangor area people  said no thanks pay them or let them leave. Some left and a few stayed with the man as they were older and knew no other life.  Because Bangor area folks were so against slavery the man left Bangor.

    • Anonymous

      Admittedly, I have not studied the underground railroad in Maine, but to say this is “all a figment of one man’s imagination…” is discourteous.  I admire and appreciate  Mr. Campbell’s efforts and plan to study them further.  As Burke said, “Those who forget history are destined to repeat it.”  Once around was shameful enough for our nation.
      Let us not forget, too, the very active role the KKK played in our state.  In addition, there was a settlement in Palmyra, ME of “Negroes,” as African Americans were then called and it was only a few years ago that townspeople there voted to rename a road to the settlement that for years was called the “N-word” Road.

    • Briney

      There are many, who like yourself, have shuttered their minds to the Underground Railroad’s existence.  In fact, many escaping slaves who traversed the escape route into Maine, rested, and stayed here.  Others continued on to Canada.

       Just how many slave families settled in the Brewer area is unknown, and probably for the best,  for obvious reasons, then and now.  Slave families  were aware of “safe houses” along the route to Canada.  The Christmas House  was one such house.    Some  slaves  were also comfortably embedded with local families.  

      Who aided them back then, is as much a mystery as to what happened to their offspring?  Did they grow and mature and expand their families  in the Brewer area?  And, are their descendants there today? 

      A closed mind is a locked door.

    • Anonymous

      Wow.  Any valid reasons for your ill-founded skepticism?

  • Anonymous

    Let’s face it.  Nobody would document the movement of slaves at the time  for fear of their own skin, so folklore and tidbits is all there is to go by.  I tend to believe in the folklore, and am happy the city of Brewer (my source of diplomacy – where I went to HS) has shed light on the era. 

    • Anonymous

      May I add that I lived in Brewer in the ’70’s when the “Christmas” house still stood and the folklore of the underground railroad was already evident.

  • Anonymous

    The much more likely explanation for the tunnel, if there even was one, is for moving bootleg whiskey during prohibition.  Who builds a tunnel to move people?

    • Anonymous

      Other people do. Surely you’ve heard of a subway?

    • Anonymous

      Think about it.  Think of the circumstances.  Think.

      • Anonymous

         Many, many elaborate projects were constructed all over the country to make money during prohibition. Construction for moving people via the underground railroad…not so much. 

  • Speaking of Freedom, when I was a kid one could see in schoolbooks a picture of the Statue Of Liberty. Underneath it was printed:

    “Give me your tired, your poor
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” 

    Did you read that some vandal has changed it with a spray paint can? Now you might find it says,

    “Give me your tired, your poor
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
    As long as they’re not
    From some other countree.

    The humble Farmer

  • Anonymous

    That ‘park’ is the most jumbled, hastily planned collection of weirdness in the area.  It’s too bad that in their rush to build a new bridge, the town of Brewer destroyed something that should have become a museum.

    • Anonymous

      They absolutely did rush! I remember the Christmas house and family.  When I worked across in Bangor on Ohio Street at a group home, in the cellar there was folklore about that connecting to the underground railway in the area. I bet if someone really researched those with family lore passed down we would have more history disclosed.

      • Briney

        Besides being a “safe house,” there was a also a tremendous amount of history relating to other events.  Unfortunately, skeptics scoffed and the house was flattened. 

  • Were you surprised to see printed on this page, “There is significant oral tradition about the Easter Bunny, too, but that doesn’t make him real.”

    There are a still a few Maine adults who do not believe in the Easter Bunny. No matter how much oral and written tradition there is about the Easter Bunny, some people think it doesn’t make him real.   

    Have you ever thought about this?  When children are four and five years old they hear about The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, God and the Tooth Fairy — all mysterious entities that no one ever sees.

    But anyone 15 years of age who still believes in The Easter Bunny or Santa Claus or The Tooth Fairy is considered to be mentally deficient. 

    The humble Farmer

    • Anonymous

      I wonder why adults continue these traditions if what you say is true? Are you saying all adults are brain dead?

    • Anonymous

      Relevance of the Easter Bunny to your ill-founded skepticism?

    • Anonymous

      Your theory of  “you can’t see it, therefore it can’t be real”  is faulty thinking.  Here’s an example of what I mean by that… How do you know if someone is wearing undergarments if you can’t see them and can’t see any evidence of them?  Does that really mean they aren’t there?  I don’t think so! Your comparison of the Underground Railroad to fictional characters is no different from my comparison of underwear to East Bunnies  – both are clearly ridiculous!  

      The Underground Railroad was indeed real – that is not disputed and neither is the fact that it certainly came northward.  Frankly there is no reason to believe it didn’t or couldn’t come to Maine.  In fact, if escaped slaves followed the ocean it would lead them here.  It is true that they didn’t document the whereabouts of all the safe houses so naturally you won’t find the kind of documentation identifying the route the Underground Railroad took.   There are those who believe they have found evidence similar to the type of evidence found south of Maine indicating that the Underground Railroad did indeed include parts of Maine.   You may scoff at their evidence but that does not mean it does not exist.  So humble farmer… the fact that no one has shown you documentation of the path the Underground Railroad took means absolutely nothing.  Like I said, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there…

      • Anonymous

        Hannibal Hamlin, veteran Bangorian and  Vice President to Abe Lincoln did anti slavery sermons  at the church on the corner of Main and Union, which is way more valuable than “oral tradion about the Easter Bunny”… I’m with you, not too much a stretch of the imagination to believe that Mainers’ helped slaves escape to freedom

      • Briney

        Couldn’t agree with you more. 

        For disbelievers of history, many will also quickly scoff on being told that Gen. George S. Patton once commanded an Army of inflatable rubber trucks, tanks, and airplanes.   

  • Anonymous

    I once owned a home in New Jersey that was part of the Underground Railway… My home had been a tavern/inn from as early as 1645 where it appeared on the John Daly Map. It sat across from the Lawrenceville Presbyterian Church where it was legend that a tunnel ran between the church and the tavern/inn.  The tavern served dual purpose as tavern & inn/town hall.  The name of the town had been Maidenhead back in the day and was known for it’s “ladies”.  The road it was on is now Route 206 that ran from the top of the state through to Princeton, NJ and on to Lawrenceville (where my home was) and on to Trenton, NJ and beyond.  At that time it was called the “King’s Highway”.  During the 13 years that we owned and renovated that home, and even before, many historical items were found, including a portion of Lord Cornwallis’s diary, rope beds,  old hand blown and pottled bottles.  Among my favorite finds was a completely in-tact wedding invitation and a tiny folded heart.  Another favorite was the cover of a magazine called “The Youth’s Companion” and a newspaper from 1895.   The attic was divided oddly into numerous cubby hole sleeping quarters.  I was very young when we began this labor of love – just out of high school back in 1972 – when we began 13 years of restoration. I had never enjoyed History as a subject in school but in this home I learned so much more than I ever could have in a classroom. It was here that I developed a keen interest in the Underground Railway.  I very much enjoyed this article and would love to see more historic articles when there is space in the paper.   

    • Anonymous

      Fascinating.  I used to live near Lawrenceville and Irecall a number of articles on the Underground Railroad in the area.

  • Anonymous

    This is the dumbest myth that has been thrust upon the people of Maine.  When you get two nut jobs like Dick Campbell and James Varner together you know something is wrong with the story.    

    • Briney

      Can you offer evidence to corroborate your assertions?  Not your defamatory remarks about Mr. Varner and Mr. Campbell?  Just facts to dispel the “myth” that you claim is being perpetrated by these two gentlemen, and others.

      • Anonymous

        Check out National Geographic’s map of the Underground Railroad. It doesn’t touch Maine.

    • Pav

       What is wrong with believing that the people of Maine were kind enough to help people that were beaten, raped, over worked, murdered and had their children taken away from them and sold (SLAVES) get free? I don’t know if there was an underground railroad here or not but I would like to believe that there was!! 

  • Anonymous

    To the doubters, your demands for certainty in this sensitive area are misguided.  For example, quilters know that many period quilts were actually “maps” and instructions on how to escape the South and navigate to the North and freedom.

    • Anonymous

       This is well-documented fact, Gopher, and it might do well for one of the many local quilters’ guilds to do some of the blocks and arrangements that helped guide the runaways to safety for a display at the Brewer Historical Society.  Books exist that tell this story and they are fascinating!

  • Al Brady

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diYAc7gB-0A

    i never knew about an underground railroad…can i go on?

  • Anonymous

    Was there a video with this article?
     

  • Anonymous

    This is total BS. The underground railroad did not go through Maine. There was no easy link to Canada, it was much easier to move them up the Hudson Valley. A home-spun shirt isn’t proof of anything. Dick Campbell is not a historian. Read any reputable history and it won’t mention Maine.

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