Mission San José among 19 new additions to Underground Railroad Network, research says

Mission was site of 1833 armed conflict involving five ‘freedom seekers’ from Louisiana

Pictured is Mission San Jose in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. (Photo provided by National Park Service) (�2018 VISIO photography)

SAN ANTONIO – Mission San José in San Antonio was one of few stops in Texas on the Underground Railroad, according to new research from the federal government.

On Monday, during a celebration of National Park Week and a naturalization ceremony at the site, National Park Service (NPS) Director Chuck Sams announced the 19 new listings to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.

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Along with the Jackson Ranch Church and Cemetery in Hidalgo County, the site now makes three stops in Texas on the Underground Railroad — a network of safe houses and routes that allowed enslaved people, known as “freedom seekers,” to gain their freedom.

The Seminole Indian Scouts Cemetery in Brackettville, Texas, was the other recognized site.

Mission San José was the site of an 1833 armed conflict involving five freedom seekers from Louisiana who traveled 400 miles to San Antonio, a part of Mexico at this time that held anti-slavery laws, an NPS news release said. The Mexican Army took in the five men and opened fire on those pursuing them.

The San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM) worked with the NPS on local research, according to the San Antonio Report.

“As we continue to unravel the complex Texas history around colonialism and the Confederacy, this is an opportunity to highlight the role of the Catholic Church as it relates to African descendants,” SAAACAM CEO Deborah Omowale Jarmon said in an email to KSAT. “We are continuing the work to understand how the Missions evolved into “safe havens” for the self-emancipated enslaved fleeing to Mexico. At SAAACAM, we are collecting, preserving and sharing history and culture through an African American lens. While we work to uncover and share our rich history and the community understands our stories are intricately connected we can together build a cohesive and collective future. "

Legislation passed by Congress in 1998 created the Network to Freedom, which “recognizes places and programs with verifiable connections to the Underground Railroad and the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight,” the release said.

Nearly 800 sites and programs are recognized in the program.

A full list of the additions can be seen here.

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About the Author

Mason Hickok is a digital journalist at KSAT. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a communication degree and a minor in film studies. He also spent two years working at The Paisano, the independent student newspaper at UTSA. Outside of the newsroom, he enjoys the outdoors, reading and watching movies.

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