It was well past any decent hour when the knock sounded on Jacob Burkle’s door. Yet the door swung open mere moments later, Burkle fully dressed and his lantern already lit.
“Mister Burkle?” said the dusty man on the porch.
Burkle nodded, anxiously.
“Your package is here.” He said, then turned away, Burkle following behind.
The man led him off the porch and around the side of the house to a large shed Burkle used to store feed for the stock animals.
“I’m afraid your package was a bit larger than expected.” The man said as he opened the shed and let Burkle look in.
Burkle held the lantern up. Out of the darkness four pairs of frightened eyes looked back.
“What? No. NO!” He staggered backwards, panicking. “I can’t take that many! They’ll kill me if they find out!”
The dusty man slapped Burkle across the mouth.“And they’ll kill them if they’re found out! The path they must walk to freedom is tortuous, Mister Burkle. Please, help make this step easier for them.”
Holding his lantern up again, Burkle looked into those scared eyes.
“The cellar.” He said, finally. “There might be space for all in the cellar.”
Jacob Burkle was a some what successful stockyard owner in North Memphis during the dark days of slavery. But he did something most weren’t willing to do – he opened his home as a stop on the Underground Railroad.