Lewelling House - Quaker Museum
Salem, Iowa

MAY - SEPTEMBER           SUNDAY 1-4 P.M.
(319) 385-2460 or Email - Lewelling House
$1.00 STUDENTS          $2.00 ADULTS


Once known as the main ticket office of the underground railroad, the Lewelling Quaker House contains grim reminders of the anti-slavery movement.   A trap door and other hiding places for the runaways who were fleeing the evils of slavery.
When Henderson Lewelling built his stone house he intended it to be a refuge.    A tunnel, extended under the house to a basement fireplace, was designed to thwart the slave owners looking for their lost slaves.
The first recorded incident of slaves through Salem was in 1839 when an advertisement with a reward appeared in the Iowa Territorial Gazette, for runaway slaves lost or stolen near Salem.
In 1848, the first scene of an exciting "slave escape case" was held here in this house, when runaways were caught by the men hired to find them.   Justice Gibbs started to hold court in his law office, which was in the north rooms.    These same slaves escaped their captors.    Following this, Ruel Daggs, the well-known "slave owner from Missouri," appeared with armed men to threaten the Stone House and the town.   But he returned home empty-handed.    This same man sued nineteen men of Salem for $10,000 for their part in the flight of his"chattels."
Henderson Lewelling came to Salem in 1840 and built the Old Stone House in the south part of town.   He, as an orchard and nursery man, planted a large orchard on his farm near the south edge of Salem.    He planted a cherry seed in 1845 and in 1846 he grafted into this seedling, a Blackheart Cherry scion.   With this tree he loaded up 800 other fruit trees and started for the Oregon Country.    After a long heart breaking trip he reached the promised land and set out his orchard.   He sold this special cherry tree in 1849 to David Chamberlain for $15.00.    He canoed down the Williamette River to the mouth of the Columbia River.   Then he went down the Columbia to Cowlitz Landing, the present site of the town of Toledo, Washington.   G. K. Haines, curator of the Oregon Historical Society at Portland said "This was the start of the great fruit industry of Oregon and Washington and it all came from the trees hauled by ox teams from the little town of Salem, Iowa."
You will hear about this and much more concerning the Underground Railroad and the importance of Salem, Ia when you visit the Lewelling House Quaker Museum.

  View of the yard at Lewelling House

  Flag that stands in the yard
We hope you will take the time to stop and tour the Lewelling House - Quaker Museum while here in Salem.    It's a little piece of America's history. Home