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Monday May 29, 2017
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This Old House



The next morning, Deborah Meadows meets me in the parking lot of Washtenaw Community College. She greets me warmly as I climb into her front seat. Our first stop is John Geddes's home on East Huron River Drive. The gray country-style colonial is still a private residence. Meadows eases onto the shoulder, puts on her flashers, takes a deep breath, and begins. Speaking with an effortless vigor that's indicative of her passion for history, she tells me that "Uncle John" Geddes, a justice of the peace, served as supervisor of Ann Arbor Township and was elected to the state legislature in 1840. He was also considered by many to be a conductor on the Underground Railroad. It's said that his home had a hidden second cellar, where he harbored escaped slaves under loose floorboards in the parlor. I shake my head and crane my neck to get a better look at the rest of the house as Deborah drives off slowly.

We proceed to other sites, including the Anson Brown Building (now the St. Vincent de Paul store) on Broadway. In 1841, the publishing office of Signal of Liberty, the weekly newspaper of the Anti-Slavery Party of Michigan, stood across the street. The homes of the newspaper's founder, Guy Beckley, and his brother and fellow activist Josiah are nearby on Pontiac Trail.

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