Network to Freedom Intersects with San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site

Living Quarters at Mission San Jose World Heritage Site, San Antonio, TX, USA, Image: NPS

Sharing news from the National Park Service regarding new sites added to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, including Mission San José of the San Antonio Missions World Heritage Site:

Sites of daring escapes and places of refuge are among the 19 new listings added to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. The announcement was made today by National Park Service Director Chuck Sams during a National Park Week event at Mission San José in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The mission, one of the new listings, was the scene of an 1833 armed conflict over slavery.

“The National Park Service is committed to sharing a fuller and more inclusive account of our nation’s history, a history that is not complete until all voices are represented,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said. “These listings are the result of years of research and documentation that recount the struggles and successes of freedom seekers during the Underground Railroad era. As we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and its advocacy of equal rights and self-determination, we must ensure that our national narrative includes their stories of bravery, persistence and resilience.”

Created by Congress in 1998, the Network to Freedom recognizes places and programs with verifiable connections to the Underground Railroad and the resistance to enslavement through escape and flight. It includes almost 800 sites and programs in 40 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada.

The network documents the diverse experiences of people who escaped slavery and the allies who supported them. The listing for Mission San José commemorates an 1833 defense of Mexico’s anti-slavery laws. Five freedom seekers from Louisiana completed a treacherous 400-mile journey to safety in San Antonio, which was part of Mexico at the time. The Mexican Army protected the five men by opening fire on the slave catchers pursing them.

Following are the additions to the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Some sites are privately owned. If a site is not open to the public, please respect the privacy of the owner.


  • Timucuan Preserve’s Freedom Seeking Stories


  • Saltwater Underground Railroad Experience


  • Lawrenceburg Public Library District Genealogy & Local History Department


  • Allison Family Homesite
  • Contraband Camp at Cairo, Illinois                                                                                                                


  • Button Farm Almanac Tour
  • Union Bethel A.M.E. Church of Cecilton


  • Seeking Freedom: Bold Escapes from the Bissell House, Missouri
  • Lila, the Life of a Missouri Slave
  • Oglesby Park
  • Smith Chapel Cemetery in Foristell, Missouri


  • Ohio Freedom Path
  • Restore Cleveland Hope

New York

  • Post Street in Utica, NY
  • Crossing to Freedom: The Cataract House and the Underground Railroad


  • Daniel & Hannah Gibbons Burial Site at Lampeter Friends Meetinghouse
  • Byberry Hall


  • Southward to Mexico: Mission San Jose, 1833
  • Jackson Ranch Church and Martin Jackson Cemetery

Nominations for the Network to Freedom are accepted twice a year. Grants and technical assistance are available to help communities investigate their connections to the Underground Railroad. Information and applications are available online.

Throughout National Park Week (April 20-28), Sams is traveling to several national parks and related sites. Highlights include meeting with staff, volunteers, visitors, and partners; and touring infrastructure projects that are improving accessibility, climate resilience, and the visitor experience.

While at San Antionio Missions on Earth Day, he also participated in a naturalization ceremony for new citizens, distributed military passes to service members from Joint Base San Antonio, and worked with a youth crew on an activity funded by the Great American Outdoors Act to repair and restore the historic Espada Aqueduct, the oldest Spanish aqueduct in the United States.

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