Milton House - Milton, WI
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member onfire4jesus
N 42° 46.586 W 088° 56.192
16T E 341582 N 4737807
Quick Description: The Milton House was an important stagecoach stop and transfer point. It was also a pre-Civil War station in the underground railroad.
Location: Wisconsin, United States
Date Posted: 10/10/2007 11:34:22 AM
Waymark Code: WM2C6F
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 27

Long Description:

photo from Milton House web site

From the historical marker:
"Erected in 1844 by Joseph Goodrich, this frontier inn is constructed of grout -- a mixture of gravel, lime, and water. An important stagecoach stop and transfer point, it was also a pre-Civil War station in the underground railroad, and is still connected by a secret escape tunnel to the old log cabin. In 1949 the Goodrich family donated the inn to the Milton Historical Society for a museum."

From the Milton House web site:
"By 1840 abolitionism and the [underground] railroad were active in southeastern Wisconsin. The passage of slaves through the state was not frequent, but was enough movement to keep people interested (Clark, 1955)."

Joseph Goodrich was well-known in the area as a strong anti-slavery man. ". . . He was for many years a decided anti-slavery man, a member of the old Whig party . . . He welcomed every new truth, every discovery in science, every practical invention . . . His apt sayings would pass from mouth to mouth and be quoted in sermons and public addresses (U. S. Biographical Dictionary, Wisconsin Volume, 1877)."


Prior to the Civil War, runaway slaves were given safe haven in the basement of the Milton House. Runaways entered through the cabin to the rear of the inn and then through a trap door in the cabin's floor to the dirt tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. In 1864, Mary Schackelmann Meyer was worked in the dining room of the Milton House and took runaways in through the cabin, through the trap door and the tunnel to their hiding place in the basement (L. Lukas, unpublished term paper, 1981).

"Milton's underground tunnel which is also unique in the nation for being the only segment of the Underground Railroad that was actually underground and has retained its identity and is open to the public. There are rumors of others but none of them are available for inspections (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."

. . . Mr. Goodrich who was operating an inn a few miles away [from Janesville] had no such security. He had no idea whether the people who came and signed their names in his register were Abolitionists or non-Abolitionists, whether he could trust them or whether he could not trust them. And so he had to devise an entirely different method of helping the slaves to escape. . . . He cared for them quietly in the basement [of the inn] where they could eat and rest and get ready for the next stage of their journey. But if the alarm were sounded here, his method of helping the slaves to escape was to have them crawl through his tunnel which came up under the log cabin at the back of the house through the trap door in the floor and then they could get away down to Storrs Lake and go on up through bowers lake to the Otter Creek area and get out to Lake Koshkonong and keep on their northward journey to Fort Atkinson or where they were going next. He could not, under any circumstances, bring them through the inn because he did not know whether he could trust his patrons or not (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."


Will Davis (brother-in-law of Jane Goodrich Davis) was sent with a wagon load of hay to the tavern [Milton House] and told not to look back. [He] Went into the tavern and had his dinner and when he came out he knew no one was in the wagon and returned home (Goodrich family oral history, Milton Historical Society)."

"In the stirring days during which the fugitive slave law was the most important matter of public interest the good people around Milton and Albion did not generally advertise their participation in resistance to it in the face of imprisonment in a federal prison and a $1,000 fine. However, it has been proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the territorial road and the stations along its route in the basement of the Milton House and the Albion church constituted part of the extensive system provided for the escape of the fugitive slaves (Old Albion Academy . . ., August 4, 1949)."

Admission and hours:
Admission: Adults (13+)--$6.00 Seniors (62+)--$5.00 Children (5-12)--$3.00 Under 5--free
Hours: Weekends in May 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Memorial Day through Labor Day daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Guided tours on the hour and half hour.
Labor Day through October 15, weekdays by appointment only.

Street address:
18 S. Janesville St.
Milton, WI USA

County / Borough / Parish: Rock

Year listed: 1972

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Person, Event, Architecture/Engineering: Architect, builder, or engineer: Goodrich,Joesph

Periods of significance: 1825-1849

Historic function: Commerce/Trade, Domestic: Hotel, Specialty Store

Current function: Recreation And Culture: Museum

Privately owned?: yes

Season start / Season finish: From: 5/29/2007 To: 9/4/2007

Hours of operation: From: 10:00 AM To: 5:00 PM

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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