Lewelling house

The Lewelling Quaker Museum

Pictures taken in the fall of 2005 and in March 2006

by Jean Leeper

© Copyright protected 2005-2014 by Jean Leeper and the Lewelling Quaker Museum Board!

Please do not use with out permission.

Updated May 2014


New counter on September 13, 2011

Front view taken in October 2005 and the south side of the house taken October 2005.

Summer 2007 - We replaced the cellar door, the upper

porch railing and added the storm windows. (Some storm windows are tinted)

Picnic area to the south of the house and the new handicap entrance added in 2005.


Lewelling House Museum sign and a replica of a Civil War Cannon.

Our apple tree that was started from one that went to Oregon, in 1847.

(In 1969s a graft was brought back to Iowa and planted. The tree died in 2012)

Several new grafts have been made from this tree and planted, you can see this tree is showing its age.

The Trap Door in the Kitchen.

Runaway slaves were once hidden under the floor, in the crawl space that runs under the kitchen, dining room and small room off the dining room.

A rug and table would sit on top of the trap door.

In the room off the north side of the dining room was the second trap door that was uncovered in 1994 when replacing the old damaged floor in that room. The carpenter, Scott Robertson had just removed the outer shell of linoleum, when they saw the trap door in the NE corner of the room.

It was much like the hiding place in the kitchen. The entrance way inside the hatch measured a scant two feet across. Its narrow entry way is slightly less than two feet wide. It has now been marked more in the center of the room, so people will know there was a trap door in that room.


Beside map "Partial map of 'railroad' in southeast Iowa. Salem was a main depot in Iowa."

^ Canada > Chicago

 Chart shows the Underground Railroad in SE Iowa and how Salem was a hub.

(See red dot on map)

Also shows some of the Underground Railroad Houses that were in Salem:

Henderson, Beehive, Shriner, Lewelling and Gibson!

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."

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.


1. Friends Meeting House, 5a purchased 1839 $25, 2 rooms each 222 sq. ft. cost $340 New brick building 1848

2. Congregational Church, Built 1854 Burned 1887

3. Methodist Episcopal Church, Built 1902 finished 1903 Closed 1969

4. Old White's Manual Institute: 1868 - 1873 Boys Training School, 1873 - 1878 Girls Training School

1883 - 1887 Indian Boarding School, (fire - new building), 1888 - 1930 Home and School for Boys and Girls

5. (Former Meeting House) 1867 - 1885 (fire)

6. Whittier College 1887-1891-1911, used as Salem High School until 1947 (fire)

{There is now a marker, just south of the Lewelling Quaker Museum, at the start of the curve, showing the area where Whittier College once stood.}

The wheel that once was located in the attic of the Beehive.

Come and visit and learn how the wheel was used to help hid the escaping slave.

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background © 2006