Prestonia Mann Martin and
Recent Correspondence with Enid Mastrianni
Real trains in the Underground Railroad
I continue to make amazing discoveries about the Mann family.
I was looking at Dr. J P Mann's advertising circulars and his references again. One person listed was "C G Hammond, supt of the C & B RR."
Aha! Didn't J P Mann's brother in law, Gilbert H. Littlejohn, work for that railroad as a conductor in the 1850s? Yes, first it was called the C & B, for Chicago and Burlington and around 1855 it expanded and was called the C B & Q RR (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy) Littlejohn is listed in an Aurora Il business directory and later in a Quincy directory and his profession is railroad conductor for the CB & Q.
I just read Fergus Bordewich's Bound for Canaan and also he came to my town's library to speak. I started to think about how new technologies that could aid escaping slaves were doing just that; Erie Canal barges, Steamers on the Hudson.
So by 1855 a real live aboveground choochoo train was going from Quincy to Chicago. And a conductor on this train (Littlejohn) had bona fides as an abolitionist, i.e.., he went to the Oneida Institute and his name can be found on an 1830s Oberlin anti-slavery petition.
And, oh wait---it gets better---the wife of the Superintendent of this line, Charles G. Hammond, is a Charlotte B. Doolittle of Whitestown, NY. Her parents were George Doolittle and Grace Wetmore. HEY!!!! They are the parents of Julia Doolittle Mann too. C. G. Hammond is the uncle of John Preston Mann, George Doolittle Mann, Josiah M. Mann and Mehitable "Hetty" Mann Littlejohn. Julia and Charlotte are sisters!
So is it possible that these guys, all in cahoots, were transporting escaping slaves from Quincy (On the Mississippi, right across from slave state Missouri) to Chicago on real live trains in the years just before the Civil War?
So maybe the term underground railroad wasn't so much of a code. I did a little more sleuthing around and made contact with Owen Muelder of Knox College. (And remember, after George Washington Gale founded Oneida Institute, he went on to found Knox College in Galesburg IL. And GW Gale's sister married into the Mann family. And, oh yeah, the CB & Q went right through Galesburg!)
He has a book coming out next year called, The Underground Railroad in Western Illinois, and he says he devotes most of a chapter to the role of the CB & Q in the UGRR!
Go west indeed for the white easterners, but black southerners might be on that train on its way back to Chicago.
1. Correspondence, Enid Mastrianni to Afrolumens Project, October 30, 2006.