The Secret Town Fed By The Underground Railroad

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In a 5-acre clearing in central New Jersey, half an hour south of Trenton, there's a hole about 6 feet deep and 15 feet across. Months ago, except for a few trees, the site was empty.

For decades, it was rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Turns out it was. Now, Westampton Township has commissioned a geophysical survey and allowed Temple University archaeologists to do a thorough excavation. And they're finding that the freed and escaped slaves who made it here didn't just pass through — they stayed

The site was once a village called Timbuctoo. In the 1820s, freed and escaped blacks formed a self-sustaining town well before the Civil War and emancipation. Timbuctoo survived through the end of slavery in New Jersey, the Fugitive Slave Act and the Jim Crow era. The last families didn't leave until the 1950s. At its peak, Timbuctoo was home to more than 150 people.

The villagers weren't all escaped slaves from the South. Some were freed slaves from New Jersey, and a few immigrants and American Indians joined the community as well.

Researchers don't know if the name "Timbuctoo" was chosen by the blacks who founded the village or by the Quakers in the area, who most likely offered assistance to them....

Read entire article at NPR