Hidden History: Sparta family discovers ties to Underground Railroad in thier home | Local News

SPARTA — The hackberry tree in front of James and Phyllis Hayes’ house has seen it all.

The tree, whose girth is larger than most any adult arm span, has ushered in six generations of Hayeses to the Sparta estate. It’s seen birthday parties, Christmas mornings and funerals.

The three has also kept secrets — most notably the quiet arrival of slaves stopping on their way to freedom as part of the Underground Railroad.

James is the fifth generation of his family to live at the home. He and his wife bought it from his aunt and uncle, Gladys and Russell Hayes, and moved into the house in September 1978.


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