Updated January 2015
New counter on September 13, 2011
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."
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.