One of the more interesting facts about the Mayhew Cabin is that it has been able to outlive and survive its own history. In 1874 a Nebraska City resident, Dr. John Blue, wrote a tale of a cave on the property and claimed it was used to hide slaves on the UGR. From then on, other writers embellished the idea that this cave was used by John Brown, that it had “cross-wings” and was connected to the cabin by a tunnel. Finally in 1890, Edward Mayhew, son of the cabin’s builder, Allen Mayhew, wrote an account of the cabin during the time in question. Edward had been a young boy living in the cabin during the 1855-1860 period. He wrote that the cave in question was a root celler and he had never seen any escaping slaves or John Brown in the “cave.” He did remember one time when his uncle, John Kagi, brought 14 slaves and his mother fixed breakfast for them and they left. It is thought this was John Brown’s famous trip north with 12 Freedom Seekers.
Despite this memory of a person who actually lived at the cabin, the cabin and a recently constructed “cave” became a popular tourist attraction in Nebraska City known as John Brown’s Cave. To read a complete account of this controversy click here.