Archaeologists from Iowa and throughout the midwest are busy in the Cass County town of Lewis looking for artifacts connected to slaves we escaped to freedom. The archaeologist are doing a survey of properties that were associated with the Reverend George Hitchcock and his family. Hitchcock was a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad — which helped slaves escape to freedom — in the 1850s and 60s. Hitchcock’s house outside Lewis is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and people met yesterday to look for historical artifacts in a field in Lewis where it’s believed Hitchcock’s original cabin was located. Floyd Pearce, who’s on the Hitchcock House Board of Directors, says they’re back at it today and tomorrow, conducting more surveys and examining what they found on Sunday. Pearce says the scientists are looking for buildings, materials and potential burial spots. Pearce says the Hitchcock House, as a station on the Underground Railroad, is a significant piece of history that needs to be preserved. Pearce says most of the stations along the Underground Railroad are gone, so the ones that remain are treasured “piece of history” according to Pearce. The archaeological survey is being conducted as the Hitchcock House is being nominated as a National Historic Landmark. Pearce says that designation would help attract tourists to the area. Pearce says about four-thousand people visit the house every year, and he expects that traffic would double with a National Historic Landmark designation. Pearce says that would translate into economic activity in the area. The survey is being sponsored by the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Department of Cultural Affairs.
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