Thornton Blackburn

Managing Real Estate Broker with Fathom Realty PB00068179

Thornton Blackburn was born in Mason County, Kentucky back in 1812, growing up in Washington, Kentucky. Because he was a black man he was sold ending up in Louisville, Kentucky. He escaped with his wife Lucy in 1831, making their way to Michigan. The two were arrest two years later however Lucy was able to exchange clothes with Mrs. George French walking out of the jail where she was smuggled across the Detroit River to Essex County, Upper Canada.

Thornton’s escape was more difficult because he was heavily guarded. Detroit’s African-Americans community rose up in protest in The Blackburn Riots. About 400 showed up at the jail where they were able to free Thornton. He made it to Essex County eventually reunited with Lucy. They moved to the newly incorporated City of Toronto in 1834. He found work as a waiter, but he had a vision so he started the first taxi service in Toronto. He built a red and yellow box cab drawn by a horse. He died in 1890, leaving an estate of $18,000.00 and six properties.

What you may not know about Thornton is that his case established the principal that Canada would not return slaves to their masters in the U.S. no matter what they had done. That case established Canada as a safe terminus for the Underground Railroad.

Until tomorrow give someone the free gift of a smile

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Barbara Tattersall
Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan (Keene,NH) - Keene, NH

Good Morning, James,

I admire Mr. Blackburn's grit and perseverance.  He certainly deserved his success!

Mar 14, 2019 02:36 AM #1
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, James Dray all I can say is We've come a long way!!!

Mar 14, 2019 03:04 AM #2
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning James. Canada's thinking was so far ahead of ours! Thanks for the hint. Enjoy your day!

Mar 14, 2019 04:13 AM #3
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Good morning, James- - -stories like these provide an extra meaning to those who talk of the good old days. We have seen great progress but we certainly have a long way to go.

Mar 14, 2019 05:10 AM #4
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning James Dray ,

We have a long way and should never forget the past. We need reminders how we have progressed and changed our thinking.

Mar 14, 2019 05:15 AM #5
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning again James. This is a really great story. I never knew but am happy to.

Mar 14, 2019 05:35 AM #6
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

James Dray you always have good stories BUT this one is one of the BEST for sure.

Mar 14, 2019 06:53 AM #7
Raymond E. Camp
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

Good morning James,

He beat the odds for a better life.

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Mar 14, 2019 07:14 AM #8
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

That was a great story to tell and one of the best you have shared with us.

Mar 14, 2019 07:31 AM #9
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

 We often had heard of the underground railroad but nobody ever talked about where the final destination was or could be. Thank you for sharing James Dray 

Mar 14, 2019 07:35 AM #10
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi James,
Very interesting.  $18,000 and six properties in those days was a LOT of money! 

Mar 14, 2019 07:54 AM #11
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning James - Interesting.  I know that it extended into Canada.  Thanks for this history.

Mar 14, 2019 09:26 AM #12
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

It is very sad to know that people were sold and treated as slaves, but I am glad that this story had a happy ending.

Mar 14, 2019 09:41 AM #13
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello James,  Always interesting your blog about people,  I have study the underground railroad  alot.


Mar 14, 2019 12:05 PM #14
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I did know that Canada was a safe have for slaves, but I did not know the man you shared. about.

Mar 14, 2019 02:41 PM #15
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

James- what an interesting story...sad and yet uplifting!  They should make a movie about this. 





Mar 14, 2019 06:30 PM #16
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Yes I remember studying about the Underground Railroad but I had not know of this heroic leader Enre

Mar 14, 2019 11:56 PM #17
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