Ownership of The Lewelling Quaker Museum

(Formerly Lewelling Quaker Shrine)

Extracted from Abstract of Title dated March 10, 1967

Garretson family summarized from information sent by Joel Garretson ggg grandson of Isaac Garretson.

Document by Jean Leeper on April 2, 2007

© 2007 by Jean Leeper and the Lewelling Quaker Museum Board 

Updated September 26, 2011


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 fitly 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."


New counter on September 13, 2011

1. Government to Aaron Street* and Peter Boyer, dated Nov 24, 1838 for $100 W 1/2 of NW 1/4 Section 24, Twp. 70, Rg. 7, 80 a  *does not specify whether Sr. or Jr. Original entry page 31

(Aaron Street Junior was in Salem by 1838/39, based on Quaker records of Ohio and Iowa.  His father in 1835) In the Upper Springfield Monthly Meeting Ohio records we read: September 23, 1837 Aaron received on his request and on October 28, 1837 Elizabeth received on her request.  (To be received by request means they were not members of the Society of Friends/Quakers at the time they were received into membership.) Then we read that on March 24th 1838 they take a certificate from Upper Springfield Meeting to *Vermilion Monthly Meeting.  The next year they are charter members of Salem Meeting so they came to Iowa in 1838 as you see on 9th day of 10th month 1838 Aaron (Jr.) is appointed to a committee at Salem Monthly Meeting in Salem, Iowa - gleaned from a microfilm copy of the first minutes of Salem Monthly Meeting. Thus we see Aaron Jr. did not come with his father and there is no record that his father was ever a member of Salem Monthly Meeting in Salem, Iowa.

 *Vermilion is the parent meeting for Salem Monthly Meeting in Salem, Iowa and all membership certificates went there until Salem became a monthly meeting.


2.  Aaron Street, Jr. and his wife Elizabeth Street and Peter Boyer and his wife Cecilia Boyer sold to Henderson Lewelling, dated Aug 31, 1842, $350, 13 acres, Record C, Page 308.  (We believe that Henderson was already on the land two years before this date so must have had an agreement before the official deed was drawn.)

Henderson Lewelling brought his membership with his family from Vermilion, Illinois in 1839 and was a charter member of Salem Monthly Meeting.  In 1844 he and his wife were disowned for joining the separatist meeting. He and his brothers William and John were all charter members and all were disowned when they went to and/or helped start the separatist meeting in Salem.  Henderson left the area for Oregon in the spring of 1847.  He rented the property until 1853.  Henderson's brother John left Iowa in 1853, maybe that lead to Henderson selling the house in 1853. We do not know who rented the house but we do know that Nelson Gibbs rented the two front rooms when he was Justice of the Peace in Salem.  Was he related to Joseph Hobson's wife? Did the Hobson family rent it?

3.  *Henderson Luelling to Joseph Hobson, dated Sept 23, 1853,  $1,800, 13 acres, Record L, Page 527.

(* record typed Anderson Luelling but signed Henderson Luelling.)

Joseph died Aug 18, 1854 aged 68 years, 7 months and 19 days and is buried in Salem, Iowa.  From Hinshaw's Iowa EQG, page 131, Volume VII.

4.  Joseph Hobson and his wife Mary to Tamar Ann Hobson their daughter-in-law dated Jan 6, 1854, 13 acres, $1,500, Record L, Page 712

Joseph and his sons Joseph R, James and Samuel and grandsons Joseph H and George M. Mills came from White Lick Meeting, Indiana with certificate dated 9-18-1839 and were accepted into membership on 12-28-1839 by Salem Monthly Meeting, found on page 131, Volume VII, Hinshaw's Iowa EQG.  Joseph's wife Mary was the daughter of Peter and Elizabeth Gibbs. Mary was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia and Joseph was born in Chatham County, N. C. the son of George and Elizabeth Hobson. I do find that two Gibbs families were in Chatham County, N. C. by 1810 but no first names given. Joseph and Mary marry in Chatham County, N. C. and six of their children are born there.

There were Gibbs that were Quakers at Salem but neither Peter nor Elizabeth are shown in the meeting records.  Have not linked Mary to Justice of the Peace, Nelson Gibbs at this time, but my gut feeling is she is a cousin. Nelson D. Gibbs parents are Friend and Lucinda Gibbs from New York.  Lucinda and her children Demis, Moses, Lucinda, James, Julie and Elisha did transfer their membership from Coeymans/Beymons (sp) N. Y. meeting, in 1845, per Quaker records.  The 1850 census shows all the family, except the father Friend Gibbs, being born in New York and the father being listed as born in Vermont.  The family history says Nelson born in Vermont and the 1880 census has Nelson born in Vermont.

5.  Tamar A. Hobson and her husband George Hobson sold land to Amos Kimberly, dated July 25, 1854, $2,300, 

Record Book L, Page 843

George was the son of the above Joseph Hobson.  George and his wife Tamer brought certificates of membership from Cherry Grove, Indiana dated 12-12-1838 and White Lick, Indiana dated 1-16-1839. They were accepted into membership on 3-30-1839.  Tamer was the daughter of Montillion and Sarah Gibson. Amos Kimberly was also a Quaker who had been disowned by Salem Meeting in Columbiana County, Ohio. Upper Springfield Meeting in Ohio had disowned Amos's wife, Ellen Butler Kimberly.  They both became members, per their request to be reinstated, at Salem Monthly Meeting in 1851.

 6.  Amos Kimberly died 12-20-1860 at the age of 66 years 5 months and 28 days and is buried in Salem South Cemetery, Salem, Iowa, per page 152, Volume VII, Hinshaw's Iowa, EQG. 

His wife Ellen married Isaac Child in a Quaker ceremony in 1869 and she died in 1879. Isaac Child and wife Esther and son James P had been received on certificate from Buckingham, Pa meeting on 8-15-1860, page 74 of same record.  In 1875  L. Maria Child wrote a letter to the 1875 UR Convention.

A dispute arose over land and son Samuel Kimberly filed a Petition of Intervention March 26, 1880.

Appearance Docket B, Page 86, Equity # 1500.  Samuel Kimberly and Catherine sold 1/2 of the property to Henry Votaw, dated July 7, 1880, for $1,000  Record 33, Page 248 Land Deeds.

Answer to Petition of Intervention filed Sept 22, 1880   Outlet 13, exempt 1 acre sold to Z Foss NW corner.  W. S. Withrow commissioned to sell to Amos McMilliam on Sept. 22, 1880 for $2,360.00 10a (whole property) Outlet #3, Record 28, Page 614

There was an Amos McMillian, a Quaker, who died 3-14-1890. On 4-6-1872 Amos and children, Lydia Ann, Hannah S., Eunice and Florence Emeline, received on certificate from Chestnut Hill Meeting in Lee County, Iowa, from page 162, Hinshaw's Iowa EQG, Volume VII.  It took eight years for the estate to be settled

7.  Heirs of Amos McMillian, sold to Oliver S. Garretson, dated March 29, 1898 for $2,500.00, Record 81, Page 79,

10 acres, except ca 1 1/4 acres deeded to Z. Foss, Recorded Book G, Page 283.

Oliver Garretson had a brother Cyrus and Cyrus was married to Jerusha Frary Garretson.  Oliver S. died in 1908 and he had four children all living at the time of his death but he and his family had lived in Buffalo, NY for many years. Thus probably why the property went to his brother's family.  Mary and Herbert were children of Cyrus and Jerusha Garretson.

8. Oliver Garretson estate to Jerusha Garretson dated Sept 23, 1908, for  $1.00, Record 101, Page 360 (Q.C.D.). There was a challenge and at Sheriff Sale date Feb 1, 1909 for $1,500.00 to Jerusha Garretson, Record 40, 219. (Sheriff's Deed)

9. Mary Garretson et al dated April 15, 1922 to Herbert C and Ethel M. Garretson, Record 149, page 218 (Warranty Deed) for $10,950.00

Herbert C. then for $1.00 conveys to Ethel Garretson, his wife for $1.00 filed April 15, 1922 record 149, page 219

10.   Ethel Lamme Garretson, wife of the Herbert Garretson sold to Roy A, White, dated January 4, 1960 (Warranty Deed 253, Page 301) rev stps $17.05.  Roy White mortgage to Ethel Lamme Garretson, Record 235, Page 431 for $10,000, dated January 4, 1960.

(A William W Garretson has visited and talked with us about the house. House owner Herbert Garretson was a second cousin to William W. Garretson's father. William W. Garretson who at times had visited the house as a child, remembers knowing about the trap doors and that escaping slaves were hidden there. Mr. Garretson lives in Des Moines and taught at Drake University and was assistant attorney general of Iowa for a time.  He is now about 70 - 80 years of age and is still living in Des Moines.  He shared some of this with Faye Heartsill and Rosie Kramer when he visited the museum in 2000.  He also sent a letter after that trip concerning the Dagg's trial.)

More about the Garretson family: Early Henry County pioneers Isaac and Alice Garretson had four children: Mary who married Duvall Henderson-owner Henderson Hotel; Isaac Garretson; John Garretson grandfather of Herbert and Ethel, the house owners; Joel C. Garretson who had a grandson Gilbert the father of William. Gilbert's father was Owen A Garretson.  Joel Garretson Jr. a great grandson of Owen A. Garretson says that Mary, John, Isaac and Joel Garretson all were abolitionists in Salem and were interested in maintaining that heritage.  One can imagine that may be why the Garretson family including Oliver, Jerusha, Herbert and Ethel were interested in the Lewelling house and kept the trap doors in tack.

From The Iowan June-July 1956 by Curt Harnack, page 23 "some of the principal houses used for underground stops can still be found in Salem," writes Mrs. Don Watson, a former Salem resident: "One of these houses is the Herbert Garretson home.  In it there was a hole in the kitchen floor where one (sic) slave could hide.  Another house is owned by my father, Jay Long.  It has bars on the basement windows yet and two doors inside that were hiding places." The house Jay Long owned was the Gibson house.

11.  Roy White transferred title to Lewelling Quaker Shrine Inc., dated August 9, 1960 and the Lewelling Quaker Shrine will assume mortgage.  Warranty Deed, Record 256, and Page 96.  The Lewelling Quaker Shrine Board was already active in 1958 and working on the property, but the deed we find is after they became incorporated.

Voted to change name to Lewelling Quaker Museum, Inc.  February 2000.

12.  The Lewelling Quaker Shrine, Inc. now Lewelling Quaker Museum, Inc sold off all but 1.6 acres to Austin L. Brill and his wife Mary, dated Mar 6, 1965 for $15,000.00, Record 265, Page 84 (Warranty Deed)


All owners appear to have at one time had ties to the Society of Friends 's Quakers, or where Quakers.  Lewelling built the house ca 1840/1842 and before he moved to Oregon in 1847.  I can document that all of the early owners were Quakers. Even the Garretson families were Quakers before they came to Iowa and lost their membership for marrying contrary to discipline.  The owners of the house had a cousin Joel Garretson, who was involved with the Underground Railroad at East Grove.  There was once a Quaker meetinghouse at East Grove in the mid 1800s.

Stories of tunnels running between houses cannot be documented, as no one bothered to write what they knew down. But Elsie Craig, 86 in 2006, remembers her father, Charles Ross Pidgeon, who was born in 1877, telling about tunnels that one person could be in near Pig Alley (her term), that road that ran east from Whittier College/Academy (later Salem High School.)  The teachers warned the kids to stay out of these tunnels and the tunnels were boarded up trying to keep kids out.  Her father said they did not appear to run a long ways.  She said they were near Old Grandma Weeks (what the kids called her) property and from the conversation, south of the house where Isaac Gibson lived.  Mr. Pidgeon descended from Isaac and Phebe Pidgeon early Salem pioneers and who were part of the group who were removed from Salem Meeting for joining the Separatist meeting.  Henderson and William Lewelling in 1842 purchased the land that was between School Street and Pig Alley and where the Gibson house was located. 

This leads me to believe that a tunnel might have lead from a field to the Gibson house or another, unknown to us, Underground Railroad house south of School Street.

No other tunnel documentation can be found.

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