TABOR – Kathy Douglas of the Tabor Historical Society says a small town in southwest Iowa has a message to add to America's recent push for racial justice.

She said the ongoing restoration of the 168-year-old Todd House, one of Iowa's key spots on the Underground Railroad and a featured destination on the National Network to Freedom, is evidence that the people of Tabor value the town’s abolitionists roots.

Douglas: “The town of Tabor was totally abolitionists. There wasn’t anybody in Tabor who would not allow blacks to even walk the streets here. They were welcome. They did have to hide occasionally when they had slave catchers behind them, but other than that they were able to walk free here in Tabor, Iowa.”

The town’s founders, The Rev. John Todd, George Gaston and Samuel Adams wanted to establish a college like that of Oberlin, Ohio, where blacks and women were enrolled.


Douglas: “Not only was their main objective to build the college, it was also to help the slaves find freedom."

She said the Todd House is important to the conversation today as an example of Americans joining in the struggle for freedom. It was illegal in the state of Iowa to help an escaping slave, but here was a minister helping slaves and doing something that was against the law.

Douglas: “I’m sure he felt conflicted in doing that, but in his heart he knew that slavery was wrong and would do anything to help them.”

Douglas: “One time I recall a story of Rev. Todd dressing a couple of slaves coming through Tabor up in women’s clothing. It was a couple of men in women’s clothing with like a vale over their faces and driving them right through town and helping them on to the next safe station.”


The current restoration began 10 years ago with a historical structure study. The first phase included restoration of the north foundation and floors in the dining room and kitchen. Most recently, the south porch was replaced.

Douglas says she Tabor can be a lasting part of America’s story for equality among its people.