Throwback Thursday: Curator's Corner
The following is from a Montgomery County Historical Society's 2015 Newsletter, written by our former curator Heather Kuzma. Please enjoy!
Welcome to the Network to Freedom, Speed Cabin!
By Heather Kuzma, Curator/Collections Manager
This year, the Speed Cabin has been on the grounds of Lane Place for 25 years. Originally, the cabin sat near the Bethel AME church on Crawfordsville’s north side as early as 1834. The cabin was home to John Allen Speed and his family. Eventually converted into the kitchen cabin of the larger Speed home, it is the place that Speed hid the runaway slaves he assisted. The cabin sat at its original location until the 1930s, when the home was rundown and demolished. Thankfully, Shirl Herr and William Cronin saved the kitchen cabin. They labelled it piece by piece, and stored it in a barn until an appropriate location was found to rebuild the cabin. The cabin was first rebuilt in Milligan Park where it stood for almost 50 years. By 1990, the cabin was again dilapidated, and needed a new home. It was moved to the grounds of Lane Place where it sits today.
The Speed Cabin is probably one of the most well-known Underground Railroad sites in Montgomery County, but there are many Underground Railroad stories associated with the area. Montgomery County was along the Western Route of the Underground Railroad that ran through Indiana. An initiative called the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom was started by the National Park Service during the 1990s. It is a listing of Underground Railroad and African-American sites from around the nation. Despite the vibrant Underground Railroad history in Montgomery County, no site was listed, until now.
Over the past year, I have been working on an application to list both the Speed Cabin and the historical marker located on the cabin’s original site. The application is extensive requiring tons of documentation in order to prove Speed’s involvement. After hours of research and writing, the applications were submitted. All of the hard work paid off because the applications were accepted. The Speed Cabin and the historical marker will be the first Underground Railroad sites in Montgomery County to be listed!
The Speed Cabin is located on the north side of the Lane property.