West Des Moines declares September as International Underground Railroad Month

Mayor Steve Gaer will issue a proclamation during the City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 8, that declares September as International Underground Railroad Month.

The proclamation recognizes the City’s unique role as a destination for authentic Underground Railroad history and commemorates all the individuals involved in the Underground Railroad, including West Des Moines’ courageous abolitionists, James C. Jordan and wives Cynthia Adams Jordan and Melinda Pittman Jordan, as well as James B. Huston and wife Nancy Hill Huston.

Gale Brubaker, Executive Director of the WDM Historical Society, said the Jordan House is an important part of the story of West Des Moines.

As a stop on the Underground Railroad, the Jordan House was built by early settler James C. Jordan, and is a reminder of the fight for freedom for enslaved people.

“Jordan was Chief Conductor for the Underground Railroad in Polk County, and the West Des Moines Historical Society is honored the City of West Des Moines is recognizing his family’s efforts, as well as the efforts of the Freedom Seekers who found safety and guidance in their journey,” Brubaker said.

Brubaker added that as the WDM Historical Society celebrates 50 years of preservation, education and outreach, its members “are inspired to keep telling the stories of the Underground Railroad year round.”

The historic Jordan House Museum is one of over 600 locations throughout the United States listed in the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program which is operated by the National Park Service. The National Park Service has encouraged entities in the Network to Freedom to ask state and local government officials to proclaim September as International Underground Railroad Month. Governor Kim Reynolds also has signed a proclamation declaring September 2020 as Underground Railroad Month in Iowa.

The City Council is meeting on Tuesday, September 8, due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday. The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 4200 Mills Civic Parkway.