The home of Jacob Burkle is one of the latest discoveries of Heritage Tours and this antebellum estate built in 1849 near downtown Memphis has quickly become one of the most intriguing and popular sites on the tour. A German immigrant, Burkle championed the cause of assisting slaves to freedom.
BURKLE ESTATE - Slavehaven/House on Underground Railroad
Burkle was a wealthy livestock trader who also opened the first bakery in Memphis. But to his family and fellow conspirators, Burkle was one of the conductors on the "Underground Railroad. "
The old Burkle mansion is now known as Slavehaven and contains a cellar and a series of tunnels where slaves would crowd together and often wait in the dark for days, weeks and sometimes even months to make their great freedom escape to the north. The cellar leads to a tunnel which goes to the Mississippi River where slaves would get on waiting boats that would take them up the river to the Ohio River and then into the free state of Cairo, Illinois.
The Burkle home has been decorated with artifacts and memorabilia designed to give you a real sense of the average clay in the life of a slave. In the house you'll see an actual blood-stained whip used to punish disobedient slaves and many other photographs and paintings that bring the slavery period right to the doorstep of your heart.
As evidenced by the Burkle estate, Memphis was one of the leading slave trading centers in the U.S. and as you are guided by Heritage Tours, you'll also travel the Slave Market District and be enlightened with details of how the lucrative human commodity was sold and traded in Memphis.
The prestigious Elmwood Cemetery is a tour stop where you'll witness the gravesite where over 300 slaves were buried in unmarked graves without a funeral or burial rites. In 1985, Heritage Tours sponsored a drive to place the historic marker that now denotes the plight of these slaves more than 120 years ago.