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The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) is proud to announce that Watkins Lake State Park & County Preserve has been awarded membership to the Network to Freedom program through the National Park Service (NPS) for its connection to the Underground Railroad. It is the first WCPARC facility included in the program, whose mission is to “honor, preserve and promote the history of resistance to enslavement through escape and flight, which continues to inspire people worldwide.”
In partnership with the State of Michigan, WCPARC protects the former farmland where self-emancipated John Felix White was nearly captured in a kidnapping attempt. Through the heroic efforts of former landowner, Royal Watkins, among others, White was able to continue his life of freedom. John Felix White died in 1905 and is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Ann Arbor.
Recognition by NPS would not have been possible without community member dedication, most importantly historian Carol E. Mull, who submitted the program application on behalf of WCPARC and the State of Michigan.