Five Open House events at the Historic Ritchie House were memoriable for many Topeka youth and families. Open House was held every Saturday in November, 2008, hosted by Robin Shrimplin, Ritchie House education coordinator.
John and Mary Jane Ritchie were staunch abolitionists and suffragists. On Nov.8 and 22, 2008, Mary Jane Ritchie (Anne Hawkins) spoke with visitors about experiences in helping escaped slaves move north into Nebraska and freedom, along the Underground Railroad. Historical research collaborates that the Ritchie home served as a way station along this path to freedom.
Runaway slaves were boarded in a cave along the banks of Shunganunga Creek behind the Ritchie House. Secrecy was important, and Mary Jane was subtle in tending to the needs of her visitors, stopping to leave food and needed clothing each morning on her way to the creek to fetch fresh water.
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|Anne Hawkins as Mary Jane Ritchie|
Topeka & Shawnee County, Kansas