Tabor's Involvement in the Underground Railroad

John BrownBecause of the sympathies of the citizens and the location of the town, Tabor was a very important "station" on the Underground Railroad. The homes in Tabor also served as arsenal and hospital for the Kansas Free State fight. John Brown and his men, General Jim Lane, and other well-known abolitionist were often in Tabor.

In August of 1856, John Brown sent three of his sons and a nephew, all of whom had been wounded in the battle at Black Jack, to Tabor to recuperate. The people of Tabor were the most sympathetic group he had met since coming to the middle west, they were steeped in the abolition views they had brought from Oberlin, Ohio, which is where the founders originated.

John Brown stored a freight train of arms for easy access for the Free State cause and chose this place as the reigning headquarters of the band of one hundred soldiers for whom he planned to raise funds in the East.

From August to November of 1857 Brown and Hugh Forbes were in Tabor practicing target shooting with Sharp's rifles. They also studied the Forbe's manual on military science entitled The Patriotic Volunteer.

The next appearance of John Brown in Tabor was on February 5, 1859, after he and his men had freed eleven slaves in Missouri. In doing so they had killed one slave-holder and stole belongings. The murder and thievery seemed unjustifiable to the town of Tabor. The reception Brown received after this was very cool compared to the past; therefore, he only returned on one other occasion.

Though the people of Tabor disapproved of the use of murder and theft to aid in freeing slaves, the towns record as an Underground Railroad station is sufficient evidence that they were thoroughly in sympathy with the antislavery movement. There are many startling episodes of this extensive system extending across the state by way of Lewis, Des Moines, Grinnell, Iowa City, Springdale, and Davenport.