The Underground Railroad in Jacksonville, IL began around 1833. The city became one of the first stations of its kind in the area and served as a busy hub until 1858 when the Civil War got underway. Today, the following local historic homes can be seen on the Underground Railroad Walking Tour.
Dr. Bezallel Gillett House Bed & Breakfast
1005 Grove Street
Photo courtesy of the Jacksonville Area Visitors & Conventions Bureau
Dr. Gillett, one of Jacksonville’s early physicians, was also an abolitionist who supported the Underground Railroad operations. Slaves were hidden in a large shack just south of the house, but it has since been demolished. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also recognized for its architecture. At night, a wagon carrying slaves would pull up in front of the Gillett House. They would hide in the shack until morning, when another abolitionist would guide them to the train depot and travel with them to their final destination of freedom in Canada. Dr. Gillett was one of the founders of the Trinity Church in 1832. He was an original trustee of the Jacksonville Female Academy founded in 1830, which merged with Illinois College in 1903. He served on the first board of trustees for the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane. Dr. Gillett was recognized as a hero for his tireless efforts helping people during the cholera epidemic of 1833.