“I always heard that…” seems to be what we say before we pass on a tidbit of local lore. The stories we grew up with as children or oft-heard at picnics, heritage festivals, youth soccer games, or all the many places we gather in the community, seem to grow into “facts” over time. That’s the nature of local history: it’s so much a part of the folklore of place and belonging.
One recent day a few of us at the Flagg Creek Heritage Society got to chatting about some of the local stories that we have heard—and have sought to correct. We clear one up below.
Myth: “Lyonsville Church there on Joliet and Wolf Rds. was a stop on the Underground Railroad, you know.”
Fact: No. It wasn’t.
After the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, it was a crime to help and harbor men, women, and children who were fleeing northward to Canada. Chicago was a hub for Abolitionists who worked to protect those seeking freedom. Speed was key; so routes tended to develop along existing rail lines, roads, and waterways. The Lyonsville Congregational Church, while its members were utterly committed to the Abolition Movement, was simply not an efficient and safe enough stop when others were closer to established routes to Chicago.
Nearby verified Underground Railroad routes and locations include following the East Branch of the DuPage River, the West Branch of the DuPage River; railway lines of the Burlington, Northwest, and Rock Island; and established stagecoach routes of Ogden Avenue. It is this last route where it has been suggested that Castle Inn (Ogden and York Rds, Fullersburgh; now gone); and established nearby Graue Mill on Salt Creek just north of Ogden Rd were stops on this perilous journey.
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The Society operates the Flagg Creek Historical Museum and the Robert Vial House located on the grounds of the Pleasant Dale Park District at 7425 S. Wolf Rd., Burr Ridge IL
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