Mayhew Cabin Looks To City For Flood Prevention

NEBRASKA CITY – Spring flooding has temporarily closed the historic Mayhew Cabin in Nebraska City and has the property’s foundation looking to the city for improved drainage.

The foundation says rain water backed up at a blocked drainage tube over the Memorial Day weekend and flooded the cave and tunnel.

City Administrator Grayson Path said the city is not liable for the storm water damage. He said the drain tube and the water basin are located on private property.

Mayhew Cabin said water running off of city streets has been increasing year after year and proposes a larger drainage tube. However, the existing drainage structure runs beneath the main museum building.

The letter says the foundation is willing to sacrifice the museum building in order to replace the tube.

The tunnel connected to the cave would also be filled to limit water flowing into the cave itself.

The Mayhew Cabin is one of four sites in Nebraska on the national Network to Freedom Underground Railroad.

  1. Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln has the grave of freedom seeker Ruth Cox Adams who Frederick Douglas clamed as his long lost sister.
  2. The Barbara Ann Kagi burial site at Camp Creek Cemetery southeast of Nebraska City. Kagi was the sister of John Brown’s trusted friend John Kagi and is documented to have helped African Americans seeking freedom at their cabin in Nebraska City.
  3. The Alexander Majors House in Nebraska City is a site linked to the escape of six slaves in 1860. A reward of $1,000 was posted in the newspaper, but the slaves were never recovered.
  4. The Mayhew Cabin had a role in freedom seekers moving through Nebraska City into Iowa and on to Canada.

Network to Freedom map

The son of Allen and Barbara Kagi wrote a letter in 1925 describing John Henri Kagi bringing 14 freedom seekers to the cabin for breakfast, when some men from Missouri arrived. The letter says that although his father told the men that John Kagi was upstairs, the men would not go up after him knowing he was armed.

John Kagi was John Brown’s adjutant general and died at 24 years of age at Harper’s Ferry.