28 East Prairie Avenue, St. Louis, MO, 63147 / Cake artist: Rich Brooks

 

Mary Meachum, a free-born black woman, led a small group of slaves (women and children) who crossed the Mississippi River to the free-state of Illinois. She was a widow of John Berry Meachum, who ministered at the First African Baptist Church of St. Louis. Around the time this happened, there were homes that they fled from that existed. They are long gone, but an 1855 newspaper article documented that the place was not far from the Merchant’s Bridge, which is three miles north of St. Louis.

The Freedom Crossing consists of nine acres. It was Missouri’s first official Underground Railroad site. Since the marking’s dedication in 2001, the site has hosted celebrations every year since (typically the first weekend of May). It typically has historic re-enactments. For example, there is an Abraham Lincoln impersonator. Speakers who specialize in African-American and Civil War history often speak at the event. At the 2013 event, there were many speakers and choirs that day, as well as a 19th century medicine show. In 2014, a woman dressed up as a slave named ‘Lila’ gave a moving talk.

The trail looking north from the cake
The trail looking north from the cake
The entrance to the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing from East Prairie (just hang a right and a short walk away)
The entrance to the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing from East Prairie (the colorful display was decorated by students from Logos School)

Cake placement date: February 21

Where is the cake now?: The cake sold in the biddingforgood auction for $605 on 1/1/2015.

Memories: Most cakers agreed that this was probably the cake that was the most difficult to find, but not to get! To get to the MMFC, take East Prairie Avenue until it ends right at a factory with its parking lot. You’ll see the above entrance, where no vehicles are allowed (even though some have managed to get through, but not legally). Coming on the trail, the marking will be just a short walk away on the left.

Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing Celebration on Facebook / Mary Meachum Celebration on Great Rivers Greenway’s website

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