This year’s August 17th Champlain Day festivities will honor two local “law breakers” — Noadiah and Caroline Mattocks Moore. They were key participants in the Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad, an illegal network of safe places which sheltered hundreds of fugitives from slavery as they made their way from the Southern slave states to freedom in Canada before the Civil War.
Officials will unveil a historic marker in the village at 11 a.m. celebrating the Moores. The event will take place in front of the Church of St. Mary at 86 Church Street, near the site of the Moores’ home and Underground Railroad station. The marker is a gift of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.
Celine Paquette, chair of the event and founder of the Champlain History Center, said, “This new marker is an important part of our community’s dynamic history, which mixes the stories of Native American, French, African-Americans and many others.”
The ceremony comes just days before the 50th Anniversary of the famous Civil Rights March on Washington, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
Federal law made it a crime to help fugitives from slavery escape from their owners, and even in northern New York so-called slave catchers (bounty hunters) came searching for runaways. Canada was the only safe place.
Noadiah Moore not only operated the terminal station on the Keeseville-Champlain Underground Railroad route, personally risking jail by transporting people to freedom, he was a founder of the Clinton County Anti-Slavery Society, and the leader of the local chapter of the Liberty Party. Caroline Mattocks Moore was a leading member of the Champlain Female Anti-Slavery Society. They also worked to get other communities organized in the first against slavery.
Don Papson, founder of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, who wrote the funding application for the Foundation, will speak at the ceremonies, along with current president Jackie Madison. Also slated to speak is Mayor Greg Martin, among others.