Slavery Account Brings History to Life

By Martin, Barbara J. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

Slavery Account Brings History to Life


Martin, Barbara J., Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Barbara J. Martin Daily Herald Staff Writer

A runaway slave stepped out of the history books and into Kim Schnittker's life.

That encounter occurred in the kitchen of the Halfway House at Naper Settlement in downtown Naperville. The experience let the 14-year-old Kennedy Junior High School student put a face with the issues of slavery and human rights that led to the Civil War.

"That was awesome," Schnittker said after hearing Chicago actress Ashley Dearborn's portrayal of Althea Hollingsworth, a runaway slave from Georgia.

For that slave, the Halfway House was one of the stops along the Underground Railroad that led to Canada and freedom.

"I felt bad for slaves," Schnittker said. "I didn't know they got burned and stuff if they got caught. I know they got brought back. I didn't know they killed them right there."

Schnittker and her classmates spent a couple of hours recently touring Naper Settlement. They were introduced to some of the personalities who played roles in Naperville life during 1856. Among those they met were abolitionists, people neutral about the slave issue and the runaway slave.

It's a history lesson that students and adults alike say helps them appreciate the events that shaped the country.

"I'll know more about people who lived in the time of the Civil War and the kind of people who lived then," 13-year-old Corinne Ball said of her expectations for the two-hour settlement tour.

This is the seventh year Naper Settlement has offered The Underground Railroad in Northern Illinois, said Patty Paterek, tour coordinator. School groups from throughout the area visit Naper Settlement to learn a real-life lesson.

Teachers from Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204 helped develop the program. …

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