Woodlawn Farm Underground Railroad Open House Returns Saturday

By Jeremy Coumbes on February 23, 2023 at 3:32pm

A Jacksonville area museum will host speakers and reenactors during a special event this weekend.

Woodlawn Farm, located about five miles east of Jacksonville is hosting its annual open house this Saturday in recognition of Black History Month, and the farm’s place in Underground Railroad history.

Woodlawn Farm was established by Michael Huffaker and his wife Jane in 1824 after they relocated here from Kentucky. The living museum now demonstrates mid-1800s farm life and tells the story of the Huffaker family’s role in helping to free people from slavery.

The Morgan County Historical Society’s Underground Railroad Committee operates the Woodlawn Farm Museum, hosting tours throughout the summer months.

Local historian and founding committee member Art Wilson says this Saturday the farm will be open for a very special off-season event. “We’re going to have Black History Month we have every year out there and will be discussing the Underground Railroad.

I, along with Ruth Leneer and a few others will be discussing the relationship between Woodlawn Farm and Jacksonville’s abolitionists that were there, how they moved the slaves, and how Woodlawn Farm was actually the last stop within this area before they went out further on to Springfield and beyond. It should be a pretty interesting discussion and people will be dressed up in character as well.”

The Huffakers employed a number of free black families to help raise cattle, crops, and horses over many years. The farm became an especially important stop along the Underground Railroad as the Huffakers would hide runaway slaves in plain sight by integrating them into their free black workforce.

The farm was purchased twenty years ago in 2003 and features the brick two-story Huffaker home built in 1840. The Woodlawn Farm Museum open house is this Saturday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the 10-acre farm located at 1463 Gierke Lane east of Jacksonville.

The event is free with a suggested donation of $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for students. Anyone with questions or to schedule a private tour at a later date, call 217-243-5678. More information can be found on the Woodlawn Farm Museum Facebook page and website.

Woodlawn Farm is open for seasonal tours from June through September from 1 to 4 pm each Saturday and Sunday.