The following book review was written by Bobbi King:
The Underground Railroad in DeKalb County, Illinois
By Nancy M. Beasley
Published by McFarland, Jefferson NC. 2013. 220 pages.
The Underground Railroad was neither underground nor a railroad. It was a trail of escape for fugitive slaves from southern slave owners towards Canada. It was a federal offense to aid runaway slaves and obstruct their capture, and whites and black alike risked their lives and families to help slaves journey out of their enslavement towards freedom.
The Underground Railroad was the term applied to a network of roads, paths, trails, and passageways where conductors (local residents who assisted the runaways) surreptitiously hid the runaways as they progressed from station to station. The conductors were ordinary citizens, local residents who remain unheralded for their efforts. Documentation was scarce due to the illegality of the activities, so Abolitionist activists remain unnamed and lost to history.
Nancy Beasley has researched DeKalb county records, most particularly the church records, in an effort "to identify those local individuals who supported the antislavery cause. [This book] focuses on the influence of Protestant Christian denominations in the antislavery movement and the fact that they dominated the thinking on the Northern Illinois frontier. As a result of their efforts, the local antislavery movement was fostered and Abolitionists were oftentimes created because of their religious associations and membership in the churches in DeKalb County. The recipient of their impassioned beliefs was the famed Underground Railroad."
Ms. Beasley has chronicled these residents: where they came from, and why they did what they did. The author lists over 600 men and women with biographical paragraphs. The index is large with hundreds of names, and her source lists are comprehensive and wide ranging. She has documented a rich tribute to those courageous souls.
The Underground Railroad in DeKalb County, Illinois may be purchased directly from the publisher at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-7200-0 as well as from many bookstores, including RoiotsBooks.com at http://astore.amazon.com/httpwwwrootsc-20/detail/0786472006 and Amazon.com at http://goo.gl/zJVHu.