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John Freedman Station

John Freeman Walls worked at the Walls’s plantation on Troublesome Creek, in Rockingham County, North Carolina. It was here that he became good friends with Daniel Walls, the slave owner’s son and his wife Jane King Walls. When Daniel was on his deathbed he freed John and placed Jane and their children under the care of John.[5] In 1845 John and Jane left a life of slavery and oppression behind them and fled towards Detroit, Michigan in search of a new life. The Walls family crossed Lake Erie in a steam boat “the Pearl” and arrived in Amherstburg in 1846. The two were strongly against slavery and as such became abolishionists who fought against the institution of slavery and its immoral roots.[6]

Their inter-racial relationship (John being black and Jane being white) caused controversy even after they arrived in Canada, and they often received stares, although according to John, “most” of the refugees were neither black nor white but “various shades of black.”[7] Upon their arrival, the two toured various settlements in the region, themselves looking for a place to settle. During their journey they passed through the Puce settlement, where the Refugee Home Society had recently purchased land to sell back to refugee slaves, and the two decided to purchase a 12-acre (49,000 m2) property from the Society and settle at 859 East Puce Road in Puce (now known as Emeryville).

Over the next few years, a log cabin was erected, and Walls would have six children and would acquire more than 200 acres (0.81 km2) of land.[8] The couple had many Quaker friends who assisted in smuggling fugitives by dressing them up in women’s costumes. One of the most well known was Levi Coffin, a Quaker from Cincinnati who became known as the President of The Underground Railroad for his valiant crusade against slavery. John had a favourite passage in the Bible, Proverbs III, “My son forget not my laws, but let thine heart keep my commandments for length of day and long life shall they bring thee”.[9] The Walls sent word of their new haven to a Quaker abolitionist couple in Indiana who had married them on their journey into Canada,.[10] and the site evolved into a terminal station for the Underground Railroad where they welcomed many fugitives of slavery and helped them to begin a free life in Canada. Jane revisited to the south on two separate occasions and returned with numerous refugees of slavery.