In 2005, Oxon Cove Park was accepted as a member of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom for the discovery of the Jacob Shaw story. Jacob Shaw was enslaved on the Berry Plantation, which today comprises the southern most part of the park. Although there are no structures left from this period, there is a compelling story to be told. Programs about Jacob Shaw and his struggle for freedom will be presented by park staff in the coming year.
Thomas Berry owned a sizable slave labor force for much of the Ante-bellum Era. With other slaves toiling close to the Berry Plantation, particularly those on Dr. John Bayne's Salubria Plantation, cross-plantation communities among the enslaved peoples developed. These connections were important in escape attempts because blacks from neighboring plantations often sought freedom together. Indeed, when Bayne's slave Sam Tyler fled Salubria in December 1840, his owner suspected that he had run off with one of Berry's slave, a man named Jacob Shaw. Because Washington, D.C., a city that promised slaves who served in the army freedom, was close by, runaway slaves from these nearby plantations faced fewer obstacles than others from more distant areas.