• LOCATION 21 | Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL

    Edward Coles and Slave Settlement

    Most of the land surrounding us now was once owned by the second governor of Illinois, Edward Coles. His home was buried somewhere deep in the trees about a mile ahead of us and to our left.

    Coles came to Illinois from Virginia during the early 1800s and brought with him 17 slaves that he had inherited from his father. Coles was an avid abolitionist, and upon crossing the Ohio River, he granted his slaves freedom and gave each head of family 160 acres of land. That land is to our right, just beyond the field and somewhere near those trees that line the horizon. The former slaves built a settlement here, which included two churches and a school. Its population peaked around 300 people and it was rumored to be a popular stop along the underground railroad. Little, if anything, remains of the early settlement, as it disbanded by the late 1800s.

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Interstate 55: St. Louis, MO to Springfield, IL