Primary Resources Archive
Massassoit House Business Cards
By the 1830s Springfield was a key station along the Underground Railroad, a secret network of escape routes and hiding places used by African-Americans fleeing slavery in the South. Conductors along the way, both black and white, assisted runaway slaves with food and shelter in attics, cellars, deep holes in the ground, and hidden rooms. Running at night and hiding by day, escaping slaves — perhaps several thousand out of a population of almost three million — made their way to freedom in the northern U.S. and Canada.
The Chapin family, operators of the Massasoit House, a hotel on the corner of Main and Rail Road Streets (today known as Gridiron Street), are believed to have fed and hid slaves in a crawl space beneath the hotel's main stairway. Others claim that the escaping slaves were able to blend in with the hotel staff. Below are two of their business cards courtesy of the Museum of Springfield History, Springfield, MA.
Business Card Number 1 [PDF]
Business Card Number 2 [PDF]