My house was built in 1811. It’s a lovely old home that was built by the family that owned the General Store directly next door to the house. In the back of the house, there is an addition that was built in 1879, complete with a trapdoor that leads to a root cellar. The root cellar is a very dark and scary tunnel that winds underneath the new part of the house as a nightmare inducing reminder that the boogey man could be living under your feet.
My mother ran tours of the house as fundraisers for our Girl Scout troop when I was little. It was actually a really great project for the girls. They had to research the Victorian Era, learn lots of facts, and then find a way to translate that information into a fun activity.
One year for some reason my mother didn’t get around to checking all the girls’ facts, and she walked in on one of her senior Girl Scouts giving the following speech:
“This house was a part of the underground railroad. And in an effort to hide the runaway slaves, the Brown family dug the tunnels under this room. Slaves would huddle in the dark, waiting for the next stage of their journey to Canada.”
Hmmmmm. So what she was really saying was that runaway slaves crouched in the backyard, hiding for eighteen years until the addition of the house and the root cellar were built.
At least she knew what the underground railroad was. And at least she didn’t say the Browns had owned slaves. So, I guess it could have been worse.