Open House
   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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interior, Ritchie House, phase 1
John Ritchie reenactor
stepping into front door, Ritchie House
Ritchie House, exterior, phase 1
Debra Goodrich
Dr. and Mrs. Stroud
James Lane reenactor
reverand and sheriff reenactors

box [graphic] November 2008

November 22 crowd gathers to hear Mary Jane Ritchie describe her life as an Abolistionist High school student, grade-schoolers and family attended Boy examines doorway to upper level of the Ritchie houseLooking through the interior doorway between the two ground-level rooms of the Ritchie house
Mary Jane Ritchie --Anne Hawkins-- discusses which towns in Kansas were Free State friendly Anne speaks with Open House guests after her presentation Families look through the many educations materials on display at the Ritchie house
Robin Shrimplin, right, is Ritchie House education coordinator Artifacts found in and around the house are displayed on shelves at left in this photo Washburn Rural High School history students visited the Ritchie House, en masse Ritchie House, November, 2008, looking from northwest corner
Anne Hawkins as Mary Jane Ritchie
Anne Hawkins 1 Anne Hawkins, right Anne Hawkins 2 Anne Hawkins explains Underground Railroad routes through eastern Kansas Anne Hawkins as MaryJane Ritchie

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Ritchie House Project, Shawnee County Historical Society, Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas
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