Laura Smith Haviland
name = Laura Smith Haviland
image_size = 200px
caption = Haviland with "Iron Arguments" (slave irons)
birth_date = birth date|1808|12|20|mf=y
birth_place = Kitley Township,
death_date = death date and age|1898|4|20|1808|12|20|mf=y
death_place = Grand Traverse County,
abolitionist, suffragette, temperance worker
Laura Smith Haviland was one of the most important women in the history of the
Underground Railroadin America. She helped guide thousands of fugitivesto freedom. She wrote:
:"It is due to my parents to say, if I have been instrumental, through the grace of God, to bless his poor and lowly of earth, by adapting means to ends in relieving suffering humanity, it is largely owing to their influence."cite web|url=http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/wlwrk10.txt|title=Laura Haviland Page|work=Life's Work|accessmonthday=December 31|accessyear=2006]
Laura Smith Haviland was born on December 20, 1808 in Kitley Township,
Ontario. Her parents were Daniel Smith (1785-1845), an approved minister in the Society of Friends, and Sene Blancher Smith (1787-1845).cite web|url=http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=chrisw_99&id=I6754|title=Laura Smith Haviland Page|work=Rootsweb, World Connect|accessmonthday=December 31|accessyear=2006] She grew up in the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. In 1815, they moved to Cambria, Niagara County, in western New Yorkstate.
At age 16, Laura met Charles Haviland, Jr. (1800-1845), then 24 and a devout Quaker, and whose father and mother were both acknowledged ministers in the Society of Friends. Charles and Laura were married November 11, 1825.Laura gave birth to a son, Harvey S.Haviland (1826-1847), and then another son, Daniel S. Haviland (1828-1917). In September, 1829, Laura and Charles, with their two sons, moved to Raisin Lenawee County in the Michigan, within three miles of her parents. Laura had five more children, Ester M. Haviland (1830-1900), Joseph Blancher Haviland (1835-1881), Laura Jane Haviland (1837-1898), Almira Anne Haviland (1839-1913) and Lavina A Haviland (1844-1845). She raised her family in a small log cabin. She also wrote "A Woman's Life Work."
Laura's family, along with others, joined
Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, whohad organized the Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society, the first anti-slaveryorganization in the state of Michigan.cite web|url=http://hall.michiganwomenshalloffame.org/honoree.php|title=Laura Haviland Page|work=Michigan Women's Hall of Fame site|accessmonthday=December 31|accessyear=2006] Due to both Laura’s and Charles’s active involvement in the anti-slavery movement, they were forced to leave the Society of Friends. They then joined a fervent antislavery group of Methodists called the Wesleyans.cite web|url=http://freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~keller/museum/work/underrail.html|title=Laura Haviland Page|work=History rootsweb|accessmonthday=October 9|accessyear=2006]
Laura and Charles had many concerns for the children who were orphaned in the county. In one of their most significant accomplishments, they founded a school, the Raisin Institute, in 1837, and decided that it would be open to all, regardless of race, creed, or sex. It was the first such integrated school in Michigan. The couple also created the first Underground Railroad station in Michigancite web|url=http://www.learningtogive.org/papers/index.asp?bpid=227|title=Laura Haviland page|work=Learning to Give|accessmonthday=January 6|accessyear=2006] The station aided escaped slaves to travel to Canada to regain their freedom. Helping the slaves put the Havilands at great risk, because they were in violation of the
Fugitive Slave Law. Over the years an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 slaves passed through their stop on the Underground Railroad.
:"My sympathies became too deeply enlisted for the poor negroes who were thus enslaved for time to efface." In 1845 and epidemic of
erysipelaskilled her mother and father, her husband, her sister, and her baby. At age thirty-six she was a widow with seven children to take care of.cite web|url=http://havilands.org/HavilandsCom/Biographies/LauraSmithHaviland/index.html|title=Laura Haviland page|work=Haviland history|accessmonthday=January 6|accessyear=2006] Even though she faced these losses in her personal life, she was able to continue helping the antislavery cause. Around 1846 Southern slaveowners offered a $3,000 reward for terminating her efforts. Although many southerners were upset at what she was doing, she still traveled around the country for her cause. Laura also founded a school with her sister in Toledo, Ohioin 1852, as well as a school and church in Windsor Ontario.
After the Civil War, she traveled to
Washington, DCand Kansasto aid and establish educational institutes for refugees. She became a representative for the Freedman’s Aid Bureau, and was paid for the first time for her work. Laura met Sojourner Truthwhile working at the Freedmen's Hospital in Washington D.C. They went to get some needed supplies and Laura suggested they take a street carback, causing an incident. Sojourner later described it as follows:
:"As Mrs. Haviland signaled the car, I stepped to one side as if to continue my walk and when it stopped I ran and jumped aboard. The conductor pushed me back, saying, "Get out of the way and let this lady come in.' I said I am a lady too. We went with no further opposition til we were obliged to change cars. A man coming out as we were going into the next car, asked if 'niggers were allowed to ride.' The conductor grabbed me by the shoulder and jerking me around, ordered me to get out. I told him I would not."
Laura Smith Haviland not only combated slavery, she had concern for all of the disavantaged. She became an outspoken advocate for the
suffragemovement, and was a leader in organizing the Women's Christian Temperance Unionin Michigan.
In her honor
Laura Haviland died on April 20,1898 in
Grand Traverse County, Michigan. She is buried next to her husband in the Raisin Valley Cemetery in Adrian, Michigan. In honor of her efforts, two cities have been named for her; Haviland, Kansasand Haviland, Ohio. A statue of Laura Haviland stands in front of the city hall in Adrian, Michigan. It has an inscription that reads:
:"A Tribute to a Life Consecrated to the Betterment of Humanity."
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7130245 Gravesite] at
Find A Grave
NAME=Haviland, Laura Smith|
DATE OF BIRTH=
December 20 1808
PLACE OF BIRTH=Kitley Township,
DATE OF DEATH=
April 20, 1898
PLACE OF DEATH=Grand Traverse County,
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