In February 1859, John Brown traveled across Iowa with 12 escaped slaves. The journey took him along the well worn network of passage known as the Underground Railroad. One of the notable stops was in Grinnell where he was hosted by town founder Josiah B. Grinnell. One of the freedom seekers with him was George Craig, grandfather of Edith Renfrow Smith.

This page includes some resources documenting the story of this journey.


Iowa Freedom Trail Project: Website from the State Historical Society of Iowa. Includes links to documents that provide county specific information of those known to have been involved, help with research, and other resources.

Iowa and the Underground Railroad. Provides an overview and a detailed account of the 1859 journey of John Brown. [State Historical Society of Iowa]

Des Moines Register March 13, 1927

In 1927 the Des Moines Register ran a series of articles recounting the 1859 journey of John Brown through Iowa. The second piece in the series was on the Grinnell stop.