College lecture series focuses on Iowa’s Underground Railroad

Local News

Learn how one Iowa man contributed to the Underground Railroad with Muscatine Community College’s annual Alexander Clark Lecture Series.

This year’s free event will be 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, with the story of Josiah Bushnell Grinnell. You can join in on the lecture at

J.B. Grinnell and other residents of Grinnell, Iowa, were active members of the Underground Railroad, helping at least 37 fugitive slaves pass through their town before the Civil War. As history tell us though, not everyone supported his efforts.

Presenter David Connon will tell a story of racism, noble actions and conflict. He will highlight abolitionist John Brown’s visit to Grinnell, and Grinnell’s first riot over the presence of fugitive slaves in the public schools.

Connon spent nearly two decades researching dissenters in Iowa: Grinnell residents who helped on the Underground Railroad, and their polar opposites, Iowa Confederates. His research culminated in the book “Iowa Confederates in the Civil War” (Charleston: Fonthill Media/Arcadia Publishing, 2019).

Listed on the Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau, Connon is the great-great-grandson of two Union veterans, a member of Sons of Union Veterans and of the Des Moines Civil War Round Table. He lives in Earlham.

The annual Alexander Clark Lecture Series is co-sponsored by the Alexander Clark Foundation, League of Women Voters of Muscatine County and Muscatine Community College.

For more information, contact Muscatine Community College at 563-288-6000.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.