2007 by Jean Leeper and the Lewelling Quaker Museum
Updated September 26, 2011
New counter on September 13, 2011
4, Block 19
Between 1841 and 1842 Henderson Lewelling was buying many lots in
Salem, Iowa. In reading land records I do not see his purchase
of Lot 4 in block 19 from Street and Boyer. The abstract
person could not find it either.
Warranty Deed F-205 dated 3-10-1847 and filed on 4-6-1847, right
before Henderson and family left on the wagon train. Henderson
Lewelling and his wife Elizabeth deeded Lot 4 in Block 19 to his
brother William Lewelling. William died 10-17-1847 and this
property-entered probate on 11-18-1847. William left his wife
Cyrene and children Rebecca, born 1839, Elvina, born 1840, Anna, born
1842, Asa, born 1845 and Lorenzo born 1846. In the probate
there is a partition of the property. John Lewelling ends up
with part of the property and the rest is held in trust, by the
mother for the five children; they are to receive their share when
they reach adulthood.
The property is described thus.
"Commencing 19 ft. 3
in. E from the NW corner of said Lot, thence S. on a dotted line,
being the center of a brick wall, 44 ft. and on cellar wall along
dotted line 30 ft. S., thence 9 ft 3 in. W., thence S. 14 ft.,
thence E, 9 ft. 3 in. to the S east cor. of the brick wall,
thence E 15 ft. along dotted line, thence S. along said dotted line
to the end of said Lot.
The above described
Lot and buildings are estimated at $1,966.32. The E. wing
including small cellar under main building and including Lot E of
dotted line, as in plat, is estimated at $365.35 being the property
of John Lewelling; and the main cellar and all of the building west
of the center of brick partition running N and E according to dotted
line as in plat, estimated at $1,101.07 being the property of Erick
Knudson and wife, Cyrene, Rebecca Lewelling, Elvina Lewelling, Anna
Lewelling, Asa Lewelling and Lorenzo Lewelling, minor heirs of
William Lewelling, deceased. Signed R. J. Johnson, David Wilson
and Marmaduke Jay"
It is believed that Cyrene married Erick ca 1848/49, no record is
found so probably married in Separatist meeting. The Erick
Knudson family was received into membership at Salem Meeting, in
1854, per their request. In April 1864 Erick and children, with
Cyrene deceased, go to Springdale, Iowa. My drawing is
I am presuming that John needed to own the small cellar because that
was the hiding room that the wheel in the attic raised the first
floor to expose, and part of the Underground Railroad.
Let's summarize about this room and the wheel.
The big wooden wheel in the NW corner of the Lewelling house dining room, was moved from the Beehive (One of the five known safe houses for runaway slaves.) The wheel was in the attic and rope(s) went down through the second floor and raised a portion of the first floor; runaways went down steps and were hidden in a cellar 14 ft. by 9.3 ft. Again the Quakers were ingenious. Henderson Lewelling owned the Beehive in 1847 and sold it to his brother William in 1847, when Henderson went to Oregon. William died in the fall of 1847 and brother John gets a 14 ft. by 9.3 ft. cellar in the Beehive. The main cellar stays with William's widow and *family. Thus it appears all three brothers, were involved with the Underground Railroad while living in Salem, Iowa.
Incidents involving fugitive slaves in Salem date back to 1839 when two fugitive slaves were captures and taken back to Missouri through Salem. The residents of Salem reportedly challenged their authority to capture the slaves, who managed to escape with some likely assistance while they were preparing for a hearing.
Louis Jones would write in, Quakers of Iowa, 1914, page 188-189:
"...Salem, but twenty-five miles from the Missouri line, and surrounded by numerous wooded streams well adapted for hiding, proved for the Negro a most advantageous place at which to stop for food. The unfailing help which they there received soon became widely known. Could he but reach the town where lived the people of plain grey clothes and broad brimmed hats, the fugitive was assured of safety ...What with the heavy loads of human freight concealed within hollow loads of hay or beneath grain sacks filled with bran, and the strange proclivity of this Quaker folk for midnight drive to unknown mills or markets, large numbers of fugitive slaves were spirited away to safety by that mysterious route which justly gained the name: "Underground Railroad". Month after month and year after year with Quaker-like precision this work went on at Salem--not a single slave being retaken, it is said, once he had reached this community (Jean added: 'and hid'). The children in the homes were trained to ask no questions, much less to answer any asked by strangers. They were supposed to have no eyes or no ears, concerning this solemn business. Among the adults vague but well understood terms were used in conversing on this subject; and while it is certain that this grave concern was frequently the subject of guarded discussion in the two Monthly Meetings, still on the records no written reference to the subject is to be found."
five children and when they sold their property:
Rebecca marries Allen Hampton and they sell to Hiram Shattuck their
1/5 of West Lot 4 in 1857
Shattuck sells that to Leonard Farr in 1864
Elvina marries Benjamin Trueblood in 1861 and they sell her share to
Leonard Farr 1/5 of West Lot 4 in 1862.
Ann marries Norton Hockett and they sell her share to Leonard Farr
1/5 of West Lot 4 in 1863
Hampton has guardianship of 4. Asa and 5. Lorenzo and they sell to L.
M. Pickering in 1865 their 2/5 of West Lot 4
April 1869 Leonard Farr and wife Margaret sell to Isaac Hasket 3/5 of
W part Lot 4
April 1869 L. M. Pickering and wife Susan sell to Isaac Haskit 2/5 of
W part Lot 4
From the above I surmise that when the children became of age they
were given their inheritance and someone involved with the
Underground Railroad purchased their shares. After the Civil
War, we see all five parcels were then sold to Isaac Haskett.
He sells them one month later to John H. Pickering. The fact that
Henderson, William and John Lewelling all owned all or part of the
Beehive property in the 1840s and early 1850s shows very much
Henderson Lewelling and his brother's involvement in the Underground
Lewelling brother, at Salem, John, moved to California in January
1853 and we see Henderson selling his family home that same year.
Henderson Lewelling did give his brother John the right, in 1847, to
sell his properties in Salem. I have a copy of that document. (Dated
16 April 1847)
I find in the 1850 census for Salem Township, Henry County,
Salem, Iowa that Erick Knudson, his wife, Cyrene with her children
are living next door to John Lewelling and his family. Francis
Frazier and family live on the other side of the Knudson
family. No way to determine where they were living in Salem,
unless tax records might show something.