St. Charles Museum Unveils Underground Railroad Exhibit

St. Charles Museum Unveils Underground Railroad Exhibit

The St. Charles History Museum unveiled its new Underground Railroad exhibit “Ordinary People — Extraordinary Actions” at a special grand opening event Tuesday, Feb. 12.

The Durant House was one of the Kane County locations associated with the Underground Railroad in Kane County.

The exhibit centers around local folk artist and radical abolitionist Sheldon Peck, exploring his previously unknown connections to regional abolitionist figures, whose work played a crucial role in providing freedom-seekers coming from southern slave states with a safe avenue to find new homes in Chicago and the Great Lakes area.

Peck’s artwork can be seen at museums around the United States such as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

The St. Charles History Museum is proud to have a prized original Sheldon Peck painting in its collection which will also be part of the exhibit.

New research from the St. Charles History Museum staff explores the local connections between Peck and the Kane County Anti-Slavery Society to other Civil War and abolitionist figures such as Allan Pinkerton, Lyman Goodnow, John Farnsworth, Caroline Quarlls, and others.

The new research explores many myths related to local Underground Railroad operations, but also sheds new light on how active communities like St. Charles were in the operations, thanks to the work of local individuals like those involved with the Kane County Anti-Slavery Society.

“We are so excited to present this new and groundbreaking research about the people behind the operation of the Underground Railroad and their local connections,” said Alison Costanzo, executive director of the St. Charles History Museum. “What they did can easily be overshadowed by more well-known abolitionist figures, but there is no denying the importance of the work done by abolitionists right here in our local community, and we are proud to share their stories.”

The exhibit can be viewed during the museum’s regular hours, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The museum is closed Sundays and Mondays. 

For more information, visit the Museum’s website at or call the Museum at (630) 584-6967.

About The St. Charles History Museum

Founded in 1933, the St. Charles History Museum, a 5O1c3 not-for-profit organization, has been collecting, preserving and presenting St. Charles’ long and rich history through unique programming, events, exhibits and presentations.