The nominated site is the final resting place (grave site) of abolitionist, Jonathan Walker, includes a monument dedicated to “The Man With the Branded Hand.” Born on a farm in Harwich, Mass., March 22, 1799 Walker as a young boy became a sailor. By 1835 he had advanced to a ship captain and owner of his own vessel. Captain Walker joined abolitionist, Benjamin Lundy’s, effort to colonized colored citizens who has escaped from American slavery in Mexico. He used his vessel helping fugitive escape from slavery. In 1844 while taking 7 blacks form Florida to the Bahamas and freedom, Walker’s boat was captured by authorities. He was charged with slave stealing and imprisoned for a year. After a lengthy trial he was tried and convicted for slave stealing. Walker was sentenced to be placed in the pillory and was branded SS (Slave Stealer) in his right hand. His trial is one of the most famous in US History during the slave era. Thereafter, Walker became know as the “Them Man with the Branded Hand.” However, rather than “Slave stealer,” Walker became known among abolitionist, anti-slavery and underground railroad workers as “Slave Savior.” He then devoted himself to lecturing on Anti-Slavery subjects around the country. In 1863, Captain Walker purchased farm land at Lake Harbor in Muskegon County, MI, where he lived until his death, April 30, 1878. Having been informed that the family could not afford a suitable monument to his memory, a fellow abolitionist, Rev. Photius Fiske, Chaplain in the U.S. N. from Boston, Mass., generously offere4d to provide one at his own personal expense. The monument was installed in July. An elaborate ceremony and unveiling of the monument was held on the first day of August – the Emancipation Day of the West Indies. The attendance was the largest ever seen in Muskegon. Thousands attended with over 500 coming from other states and cities, arriving by steamer from Chicago to Grand Haven. A detail report of the event appeared in the August 2, 1878 issue of the Muskegon Chronicle under the heading “A Hero Honored.”
Visitor Information: Currently open to public.
Location: Evergreen Cemetery, Woods at Irwin Street, Muskegon, 49443
National Park Unit: No
Ownership: City of Muskegon Michigan
Location Type: Site
UGRR Operatives: Jonathan Walker