This Old House
Weeks later, the house is still in the forefront of my mind. I call Grace Shackman, the writer of the article. She tells me her daughter, Leah, also lived at 604 East Washington when she was an undergraduate.
Like me, Grace learned of the Underground Railroad connection years after her daughter lived there. She found Morwick's name in the History of Washtenaw County, Michigan, a compilation published by Charles C. Chapman in 1881. She then found his address by poring over old city directories. But she cautions: we don't know anything about any activity in any house because it was illegal. Grace likens reconstructing the Underground Railroad to putting together a jigsaw puzzle when some pieces are missing and the remaining pieces can be put together in several different ways. What we do know is that, whether or not slaves slept under its roof, someone who lived there helped pave the way for them to be free.
It is highly unlikely that I'll ever learn more about what went on in that house in relation to the Underground Railroad. But I am pacified by what I already know. My quest to retrace the steps of my ancestors has led me back home.
[Originally published in April, 2010.]