Peoria Historical Society will present "A Soft Knock on the Door: The Abolition Movement in Peoria" at 2 p.m. June 13 in the backyard garden at Pettengill-Morron House Museum, 1212 W. Moss Ave. Seating will be provided.
The presentation will explore the Underground Railroad in Peoria and Peorians’ efforts to end slavery, said Peoria Historical Society volunteer Corey Curtis, who will lead the presentation. It’s being held, in part, to commemorate Juneteenth, the holiday that observes the ending of slavery in the United States.
“Abolitionists in Peoria fought hard to see that slavery ended,” Curtis said. "I became interested in the abolitionist movement after becoming a docent at the Pettengill-Morron House Museum and researching the Civil War in Peoria. References to the Underground Railroad would occur, and I became intrigued about what part Peoria played in the system."
Curtis pointed out that African Americans from Peoria were part of the 29th United States Colored Troops from Illinois. The regiment played a role in the Union Army's presence in southern Texas on June 19, 1865, when it was announced a full 2 ½ years after the Emancipation Proclamation that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved people were free.
Curtis, who is studying to be a history teacher, was the Peoria Historical Society’s Volunteer of the Year in 2019. He conducted the society’s “Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War” history bus tours and currently conducts the society's “Springdale Cemetery Soldier's Hill and Mt. Repose” history walking tours.
Attendees who become members of the Peoria Historical Society at the presentation will receive a free house museum tour at a later date.
Sponsored in part by an Activate History micro-grant from Illinois Humanities.