News Release

Ship and Horn Islands Recognized as Underground Railroad Sites

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Date: October 5, 2022
Contact: John Bernstiel, 228-348-1549

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.-- Ship and Horn Islands, managed by Gulf Islands National Seashore, were accepted into the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program on September 29, 2022.

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom is a federal program that commemorates the stories of the men and women who risked everything for freedom and those who helped them. It honors, preserves, and promotes the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight worldwide.

The Network currently represents over 695 locations in 39 states, plus Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through its mission, the Network to Freedom helps to advance the idea that all human beings embrace the right to self-determination and freedom from oppression.

Following the start of the Civil War, freedom seekers used small craft to navigate the waters of the Mississippi Sound in hopes of finding liberation at the hands of U.S. forces. By October 1861 the first recorded freedom seeker arrived on Ship Island and enlisted for service in the U.S. Navy.

In December 1863, at least eight freedom seekers reached Horn Island and were picked up by the USS Calhoun, a gunboat participating in the U.S. Navy’s blockade of the passes between the Mississippi Barrier Islands. These men were enlisted in the U.S. Navy with two, Solomon Gregory and Ebenezer Jenkins, known to have severed throughout the war and settled in the Moss Point area post-war as free men.

“The designation of Horn and Ship Island presents us with further opportunity to tell the inspirational, yet difficult stories of enslaved individuals struggle for freedom,” said Superintendent Darrell Echols. “Gulf Islands National Seashore is honored to be in a position to bring these powerful and previously seldom told stories to this and future generations of visitors.”

Horn and Ship Island are two of the 17 new listings announced Sept. 29. For more information visit www.nps.gov/orgs/1205/index.htm.

About Gulf Islands National Seashore: Created in 1971, the national seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. Visit us at www.nps.gov/GulfIslands, on Facebook www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS, Twitter www.twitter.com/GulfIslandsNPS, and Instagram www.instagram.com/GulfIslandsNPS.

About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.



Last updated: October 7, 2022

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