My father was John Warren Wilkinson, born in Beverly, Massachusetts on 3 January 1934. He was from a modest background, and was the first member of his family to graduate from a college. He was the youngest of three, and his two older brothers served in the military at the end of WWII and in occupied Japan. Because college was expensive, he commuted by train every day to Boston from home, and worked at night as a security guard at the United Shoe Machinery Corporation in Beverly.
My father started attending Northeastern University in Boston in the fall of 1953, and he transferred the next fall to Boston University. His original major was Chemistry, but when he transferred to B.U. he changed his major to Government, and his plan was to enter the foreign service. He graduated from Boston University in 1957. His first job was teaching American History at Salem High School. Later, he spent the rest of his career in the life insurance business.
It is interesting to remember that Dr. Martin Luther King received his doctorate in theology at Boston University in 1955. I wonder if their paths ever crossed? Dad always was proud that Dr. King went to his alma mater, but he never mentioned anything more.
I'll start here with a letter I found inside the report. I'll post more about the paper, including an entire transcription of it, over the next few days.
My Dad typed up this letter and included it inside his college paper, with Walter Gerritson's drawing
179 Ash Street
March 12, 1954
Dear Mr. Wilkinson
Yours recieved and I wish that I could answer all the questions but I'll do the best that I can.
What I learned was from Cyrus King Littlefield. We always called him King. He lived on Ash St. and he told me that about dusk some times he would see two or three negros come crawling out from under the barn and they would travel with the North Star to guide them. All was kept as secret as possible and among as few as possible. These things King learned as he grew older.
The barn where they were hidden day times had only a cellar under the cows and horses on the South side of the barn so the negros would have a large space on the dirt under the barn floor. There they would find food. The few who were running this would be notified at the next station ahead and know when to look for the new comers. Some times there were men around trying to capture the escaped slaves. And so there could be no traveling until they were told that the coast was clear.
I don't know [who] was the owner of the barn but it was built by Jonas Parker who lived up Ash St. I tried to make a drawing of the barn and every one looks worse than the one before it.
There were directed where the next stopping place would be. And who would be on the look out for them. Some times they would be fortunate to ride some of the way. King said that they would have a stick over their shoulder with a little bundle on it. Probably clothing and perhaps food.
Hoping that [I] may be some [help]
I am with best wishes
Aged 93 years
Stay tuned to more posts this week, with the rest of the paper and other interesting information...
Part 2 http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-dads-college-paper-part-2.html
Part 3 http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/12/dads-college-paper-part-3.html
Part 4 http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2011/12/my-dads-college-paper-part-4.html
Copyright 2011, Heather Wilkinson Rojo