63788 - 567th Lane
Lewis, Iowa 51544
The Hitchcock House located a mile west and a half-mile south of Lewis. Iowa has been designated a National Historic Landmark as of 2006. It received its acclaim because of its use as a station on the Underground Railroad. The House was built in 1856 by Reverend George and Mrs. Caroline Hitchcock. Used in its construction was the brown sandstone from Jester's quarry on the road south of Lewis. In 1983 citizens of Lewis with uncommon dedication and vision did a major restoration on the building to restore it to its earlier status.
Slaves escaping to the north (the timing was before and after the civil war) knew of the homes used to help them with their travels. There were no records kept of these people as it was a federal offense to shield or aid fugitive slaves. The house had an accessible room with an outside entrance to the basement. This was considered a "secret" room as the place where the slaves stayed was behind a cupboard that was hinged, movable and allowed entrance that could protect them well. Bounty Hunters and Revenuers were always on the watch for the these slaves trying to go to Canada eventually.
Word passed as stories throughout the years told of "how they did it" . Here are a couple of those stories. Blankets made of a design that were used as symbols to tell a message were placed on a fence that would tell the slaves various things. For example, "The Log Cabin" pattern said that this was a "safe house". There were various other messages that could be told like the fact that food would be served at this house. There was a place for cooking in the basement. Supplies for the house were gotten on occasion from a distance north so slaves were dressed in woman's garb and taken along so as not to be discovered. The Ferry Boat was used to cross the Nisnabotna River when possible.
Today, there are tours available at certain times and there is a "Granary Gift Shop" available to tourists.