Tag Archives: Gerrit Smith Estate

Abolitionist Gerrit Smith’s Birthday Party Planned


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Smith, G Sebring 1-2014Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (the Gerrit Smith Estate) invite the public to the annual Gerrit Smith birthday party at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 8, 2014 to learn about Peterboro in 1864.

Born in Utica March 6, 1797, Smith came to Peterboro when nine years old and, with the exception of his years at college and in Congress, spent his life in Peterboro managing his land business in order to support his reform initiatives. Smith’s influence connected Peterboro to national issues. Continue reading

Peterboro Opens Heritage Season with Annual Party


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Gerrit SmithStewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) in Peterboro will announce plans for the 2013 Peterboro Heritage events at the annual Gerrit Smith birthday party on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro.

The doors will open at 1:00 pm for the Stewart organizational meeting, program announcements, and overview of site hosting schedule needs and responsibilities – in-depth training to be held before we open for 2013 Heritage Season. At 2:00 p.m. Norman K. Dann PhD, professor emeritus Morrisville State College and Smith biographer will present on Gerrit Smith and Smithfield in 1863. Dann’s program will be followed by birthday refreshments. The program is open for the public with a three dollar admission for adults, and free for students and 2012 GSENHL Stewards. Continue reading

State Historian to Speak at Abolition Hall of Fame Dinner


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Robert Weible, State Historian of New York and Chief Curator of the New York State Museum will provide the keynote address at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) annual dinner at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, October 20 in the Hall of Presidents at Colgate University in Hamilton NY.

Weible’s presentation “The Irrepressible Conflict: The Civil War in New York” will describe the large exhibit by the same name that opens September 22 at the state museum. The history of New York’s involvement in the Civil War – the state’s role leading up to war, during the war and Reconstruction – and the lasting impact the war had on New Yorkers – is told through four major themes: The Coming of War, The Battlefield, The Home Front, and Reconstruction and Legacy. The importance of the abolition activities in Central New York – including the acquisition of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and Gerrit Smith – will be included. Continue reading

2012 Peterboro Emancipation Day August 4th


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This is a family event to celebrate the history of freedom seekers who came to Peterboro with the aid of abolitionist Gerrit Smith. The morning program begins with a reception and refreshments, tent meeting, annual group photo, procession to Peterboro Cemetery, wreath ceremony to honor Gerrit Smith and a memorial dedication of a stone for a freedom seeker who is buried in the Peterboro Cemetery. 
The afternoon program will include a tour of the estate, games and contests for children, and a talk by guest speaker Hugh Humphreys at the Smithfield Community Center on Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro at 2:00 PM.
Humphreys’ presentation titled “Dr. King and the Mighty Stream of Righteousness; a Journey from Peterboro to Montgomery.” will explore the history and influences of early reform on the Civil Rights movement. The 2012 celebration marks the 3rd year the event has been revived in Peterboro from its early beginnings in the 19th century. A $5 donation at admission is suggested and the event is open to the public. For more information: 315-280-8828 and info@gerritsmith.org
Morning registration will take place at the Gerrit Smith Estate at 5304 Oxbow Road in Peterboro, NY at 10:00 AM. Parking is free.  No lunch will be served, but there will be a break for families to picnic. 

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) is on the state and national Underground Railroad trails. The GSENHL is open in 2012 on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 5 pm from May 19 to September 23, by appointment, and for special events. Admission is $3 for adults and free for students. For more information: 315-280-8828 or www.gerritsmith.org.

Photo: Jim Corpin, one of the organizers of the 21st C. Peterboro Emancipation Days examines a family genealogy chart brought to the 2011 Peterboro Emancipation Day. Photo provided.

A Black American’s View on the Fourth of July


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160 years ago the former slave Frederick Douglass was asked to give a speech on the Fourth of July. Douglass refused to speak on July 4, but did deliver a powerfulspeech the day after Independence Day. He asked the audience “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us?” “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you. Not me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. The Fourth of July is yours, not mine.”

On July 1, 2012 at 2 p.m. at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) to which Frederick Douglass was the first inductee, David A. Anderson Ph.D. Visiting Scholar at Nazareth College of Rochester will present an oration of Douglass’ speech asking what Independence Day meant to the American slave. 

A founding member of Akwaaba: the Heritage Associates, Anderson is an interpreter of living history through reenactments that evoke Frederick Douglass, Austin Steward, unheralded escapees, et al. Often the theme addresses the essential role African American Union soldiers played in freeing a people and preserving the Union. He has presented such recreations at symposia in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and in other venues.

Anderson chairs Rochester-Monroe County Freedom Trail Commission, which in 2003, took the lead in staging, “Men of Color, to Arms!” a conference illuminating Frederick Douglass’ role in overturning policies barring African Americans from the Union Army. In 2007, with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center inCincinnati, the Commission co-sponsored the Frederick Douglass International Underground Railroad Conference. In June 2009, Anderson joined other honorees at the National Mall in Washington in “Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture,” an exploration of the expressive power of the creative African American oral traditions in the shaping of American culture.

Douglass spoke at anti-slavery conventions in Peterboro and in the Free Church of Peterboro which Gerrit Smith had established. Douglass worked with Smith in organizing the 1850 Anti-Fugitive Slave Law Convention in Cazenovia, New York. Smith made large and regular donations of money to Douglass in order to keep solvent Douglass’ anti-slavery efforts through his newspapers The North Star and Frederick Douglass’ paper. Douglass dedicated the second edition of his autobiography to Gerrit Smith whom he considered a great man because of his practical efforts to implement universal human rights. Douglass’ relationship with Smith was also on a very personal level. He visited Peterboro often, bringing with him colleagues and other members of his family for extended visits as early as 1835. Following the two o’clock program, Norman K. Dann PhD, a Gerrit Smith biographer, will conduct a tour of Douglass’ steps at the Gerrit Smith Estate describing the relationship between the two men.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities for the Abolition Agitation in New York Sparks War for Liberty and Justice for All2012 NAHOF project. Admission to the program and to the exhibits at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro is three dollars and free to students. 

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum is included in the Madison County Cultural Heritage Passport with its companion heritage site the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. Both sites are open Saturdays and Sundays form 1 – 5 from May 19 to September 23, by appointment,and for special events. For more information info@abolitionhof.org and 315-366-8101

Holstein History, Milk Bottles and Milking Machines


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The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark will hold its third annual Holstein Heritage event at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, the third day of Dairy Month, at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro.

Milton C. Sernett PhD will present Peterboro: Cradle of the Holstein Breed! Sernett’s interest in the history behind the New York State Holstein Association monument on Oxbow Road just north of Peterboro gave impetus to this annual event recognizing the important role that Peterboro played in the agricultural industry.

In his illustrated talk Sernett will use his research to relate the history of Gerrit Smith Miller’s importation to Peterboro of the first registered Holstein-Fresian herd in America. Sernett published the book Cradle of the Breed: Gerrit Smith Miller and the Kriemhild Herd, for the first Holstein Heritage event, and followed that publication with another in 2011 Say Cheese! The Story of the Era When New York State Cheese was King. Both books will be available at the program, at the Peterboro Mercantile, and are online at mercantile.gerritsmith.org

Returning directly from the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors (NAMBC), Peter Bleiberg will share information on milk bottles and their collection. Bleiberg, a resident of New Hartford and the next editor of The Milk Route, the official newsletter of the NAMBC, has been collecting milk bottles for twenty-four years. He focuses his collection on the variety of pictures and slogans that began to appear on painted milk bottles in the mid-1930’s.

To promote the use of their milk and other dairy products, dairies used images of cows, barns, babies, families, ice cream, butter, nursery rhymes, war-related scenes, and many other subjects on the backs of the colorful bottles. Peter’s presentation, entitled Marketing of Milk in the 1940s, includes pictures of hundreds of bottles and traces the advertising themes on the bottles that sat in our refrigerators and on our kitchen tables every morning.

Mike Gleason will return to the annual event with his antique milking machines and, hopefully, with copies of his book on milking machines that is in publication at this time.

The public is encouraged to attend this heritage session which broadens understanding of the rich history of Gerrit Smith and his family. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark at 5304 Oxbow Road in Peterboro has been designated by both the state and national park services as a site on the Underground Railroad.

 Exhibits on freedom seekers and abolitionists are in the three buildings on the estate that are open to the public. The site is open in 2012 on weekends from 1 -5 pm through September 23, for special events, and by appointment. Admission is $3 and free for students. For more information: 315-280-8828, info@gerritsmith.org or www.gerritsmith.org.

Illustration: A Holstein from an 1898 print.

Gerrit Smith Celebration Begins Peterboro Season


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Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) in Peterboro will announce plans for the 2012 Peterboro Heritage events at the annual Gerrit Smith birthday party on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro (Madison County). The doors will open at 1:00 pm followed by program announcements and updates at 1:30 p.m.

Norman K. Dann PhD, professor emeritus Morrisville State College and Smith biographer will present Gerrit Smith and the Civil War at 2 p.m. Dann’s program will be followed by birthday refreshments. Many programs have presented Smith’s significant role in igniting the Civil War through his radical abolition activities. This program will address more specifically what Smith was doing in 1862 during the second year of the Civil War, and the connection of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to Smith. The program is open for the public with a three dollar admission for adults, and free for students and 2012 GSENHL Stewards.

The annual party kicks off the observance of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. During New York Heritage Weekend, the Earlville Opera House and the 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend will present John Brown’s Ghost: From Madison County to Harpers Ferry at 7:30 pm Saturday, May 19 in Madison Hall on Scenic NYS Route 20 in Morrisville. Hugh C. Humphreys will welcome the audience with a brief description of Madison County’s role in the Civil War. Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz will show some faces of persons from Madison County who served in the Civil War, and letters from and to soldiers will be read. Performers Greg Artzner and Terry Leonino, well known for their musical renditions of Civil War songs, (especially the history of John Brown) will provide a preview for an expanded Civil War concert Four Seasons, Four Years ~ the Civil War: a Musical Journey, at the Earlville Opera House on Friday, June 8. Eleven New York musicians have assembled to perform Four Seasons for the four years of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

The 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend opens at 10 am on Saturday, June 9 and closes at 4 pm on Sunday June 10. The 77th NY Regimental Balladeers will present Hard Times Come Again No More: America’s Heart Songs at 8 pm on Saturday night. Civil War military and domestic encampments with sutlers, exhibits, Civil War roundtables, programs, skirmishes, entertainment, book-signings, children’s games, musical programs, reenactor units, town displays, and lectures have expanded to include newly developed historical interpretations. Dr. Milton C. Sernett presents Terrible Swift Sword and Madison County Historian Matthew Urtz shows Madison County Faces in the Civil War. The Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department will barbeque chicken on Saturday and the Peterboro United Methodist Church will flip pancakes on Sunday morning.

July 1 Dr. David Anderson will present Frederick Douglass’ reasons for his opposition for speaking about freedom on the Fourth of July. Emancipation Day on Saturday, August 4 is followed Sunday with Hometown Day, Family Day of Croquet, and an afternoon program on the Peter and William Still family by Leslie Gist Still.

On Equality Day Weekend (August 25 and 26) two programs featuring Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be presented. Saturday evening, August 27 at 7 p.m. Hugh C. Humphreys will give an illustrated talk on the Great Cazenovia Convention of 1850. Ted Jackson speaks on his great grandfather abolitionist James Caleb Jackson on Saturday, September 8. The summer season closes with the annual Elizabeth Smith Miller In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea on Sunday, September 23.

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum commemoration ceremonies for 2011 inductees Abby Kelley Foster, Jermain Wesley Loguen, and George Gavin Ritchie will be held at Colgate University on October 19 and 20, with tours on Sunday, the 21st in Peterboro and Syracuse.

Saturday evening, November 24 Joanne Shenandoah will pay tribute in concert to her ancestor Chief Skenandoah and his friend Peter Smith at Madison Hall in Morrisville.

Events for 2012 Peterboro Heritage are made possible, in part, with funds from the New York State Council on the Arts Decentralization Grant Program, a State Agency, and the Cultural Resources Council, a Regional Arts Council.

The Peterboro Mercantile, a community heritage shop, the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL), and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) are open Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 pm beginning Saturday, May 19 and ending Sunday September 23, for special events and tours, and by appointment. The GSENHL is a site on the National Park Service Network to Freedom (national Underground Railroad trail) and both sites are on the Heritage NY Underground Railroad Trail, a program of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. Adult admission is three dollars. Students and 2012 Stewards are free. The projects are recruiting volunteers for the 2012 season. For more information and to check updates on programs: www.gerritsmith.org, www.abolitionhof.org, 315-366-8101, 315-280-8828.

Photo: A member of the 77th NY Regimental Balladeers plays on the green during Civil War Weekend.

Peterboro Celebrates Black Heritage


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As Black History month commences, Peterboro, NY (in Madison County) is finalizing plans for 2012 programs that explore and explain the 19th Century history of African-Americans in the hamlet and its significance to the history of our nation.

On January 31st, the anniversary date of the Thirteenth Amendment that abolished slavery, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Traveling Abolition Museum exhibit was transported from Case Library at Colgate University to Memorial Library at SUNY Cortland for Black History Month.

The exhibit had been installed at Colgate for Martin Luther King Jr. commemorations at the college. Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. professor emeritus Syracuse University developed the text and visuals for the traveling museum that cover the history of American Abolition from slavery in the Colonial era to the Civil War.

Dr. Sernett, a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro, will also be presenting at SUNY Cortland on the Abolition Crusade in Upstate New York. Robert Djed Snead, a Jermain Wesley Loguen reenactor who performed at Loguen’s NAHOF induction in October 2011, will perform and present Loguen at SUNY Cortland. For the same month The History Center in Ithaca will be hosting the John Brown Lives! Timbuctoo exhibit during Black History Month. Timbuctoo explains Gerrit Smith’s plan to gift 3000 African-American men with 40 acres of land.

The 20th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend June 9 and 10, 2012 will join in the nation’s commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Military battles were not waged on Peterboro soil, but Peterboro was the center of human rights activities that waged war against slavery, and those activities led to the ignition of the Civil War. Dr. Sernett will present The Terrible Swift Sword: Abolitionists and the Civil War. Also, Alice Keesey Mecoy, will return to NAHOF to share insights into her great, great, grandfather John Brown. NAHOF will exhibit a copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation gifted by the New York State library. Lincoln presented his draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862. The New York State Museum will open an exhibit on September 22, 2012 about the Proclamation which was briefly owned by Gerrit Smith of Peterboro.

Sunday, July 1 at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro Dr. David Anderson of the Akwaaba Program at Nazareth College will portray Frederick Douglass’ in the delivery of Douglass’ famous Fifth of July speech. Saturday, August 4 the third annual 21st C. Emancipation Day will be held in Peterboro. On Sunday, August 5 Lesley Still Gist will detail the famous Underground Railroad work of William Still and his reunion with his long lost brother Peter Gist who came to Peterboro to seek help from Gerrit Smith. Saturday, August 18 at 7 p.m. Hugh Humphreys will present on the great Cazenovia protest against the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law.

The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum Commemorations October 20, 2012 at Colgate University include the unveiling of Jermain Wesley Loguen’s banner for the Hall of Fame, as well as that of Abby Kelley Foster and George Gavin Ritchie for their risk-laden pursuit of freedom for slaves. Loguen’s afternoon symposium will be presented by Robert Djed Snead, and Snead will also re-enact Loguen during the evening celebrations.

Heritage New York Underground Railroad Trail and National Park Service National Historic Landmark exhibits on the Underground Railroad, abolition, and African-Americans of Peterboro are open from 1 – 5 pm Saturdays and Sundays May – September at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

For more information refer to www.sca-peterboro.org, www.AbolitionHoF.org or 315-366-8101 as the season progresses.

Photo: Robert Djed Snead portrays Syracuse Underground Railroad station conductor Jermain Wesley Loguen at Loguen’s October 2011 Induction to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro.

Syracuse’s 1851 ‘Jerry Rescue’ Anniversary Event


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160 years ago on October 1st, a captured fugitive slave named Jerry was freed by a mob of Syracuse citizens. For seven years after that date Central New York abolitionists celebrated the Jerry Rescue with an event that commemorated its importance. In 1859 Gerrit Smith responded to the request of the Jerry Rescue Committee for him to speak with a refusal because people had not maintained the high level of commitment to abolition that the Jerry Rescue had demonstrated.

On October 1, 2011, exactly 160 years after the Jerry Rescue, John M. Rudy will present “The Jerry Level”: Gerrit Smith and the Memory of the Jerry Rescue at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 1, 2011 at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

October 1st, 1851, events in Downtown Syracuse drastically altered the course of the lives of countless Central New Yorkers. As abolitionists battered down the door to a Syracuse police station and freed the fugitive slave Jerry Henry, they embarked on a journey which would span the course of the next decade. The Jerry Rescue was a catalyst for Upstate’s abolition activity from 1851 until the dawn of the Civil War.

Among those who turned the freeing of one man on Clinton Square in Syracuse into mass action were Gerrit Smith and Jermain Loguen. Smith advocated living life to the “Jerry Level” regarding the need for radical action. Loguen took the Jerry Rescue as inspiration to become more active in the Underground Railroad in Central New York. Throughout the 1850s the two men grew more radical every year until, by 1859, civil war seemed inevitable.

On the event’s 160th anniversary, historian John Rudy will share some of the interesting tidbits of research that he unearthed during his thesis preparations, investigate Central New York in the turbulent 1850s, and recognize the enduring memory of the Jerry Rescue. Rudy’s thesis centers around four personalities who had connections to the Rescue. Daniel Webster, in his May 1851 speech in Syracuse which challenged the abolition community, leads off the study. The next chapter centers on Jermain Loguen, Syracuse’s “King” of the Underground Railroad. Third is a discussion of Gerrit Smith’s disillusionment with the Upstate abolition community over the course of the 1850s, and his eventual alliance with John Brown. The final chapter discusses Samuel May and the “death” of the Jerry Rescue spirit in Syracuse at the coming of the war. It seems that the abolition world, for about ten years, revolved around Syracuse and its personalities – Smith being key among that community of thinkers.

Gerrit Smith was one of the first five abolitionists to be inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in 2005. Jermain Wesley Loguen will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, October 22 in ceremonies at Colgate University.

A native of Pompey in Onondaga County, John Rudy has been studying the history of Upstate New York’s abolition community since 2005. John holds a Masters in Applied History from Shippensburg University and a Bachelors in History, with a minor in Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College. John currently lives in Gettysburg and works with the National Park Service’s Interpretive Development Program in Harpers Ferry, WV, creating training materials for park rangers across the entire park system.

The public is encouraged to attend the program at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road / 5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY. Admission is two dollars. Students are free. This program is one of a series of programs provided by the Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark during 2011 and partially supported by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006 www.gerritsmith.org 315-684-3262 and National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055 www.AbolitionHoF.org, 315-684-3262.

Photo: Jermain Wesley Loguen of Syracuse was one of the primaries in the rescue of Jerry McHenry from a jail in Syracuse on October 1, 1851.

The Gerrit Smith-Frederick Douglass Partnership


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It was an unusual partnership: a runaway slave and a wealthy New York landholder. Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass were drawn together by a shared commitment to ending slavery and guaranteeing equal rights for all. Their friendship began tentatively in the late 1840s at about the time Douglass launched his first newspaper, the North Star, in Rochester NY. It solidified in the early 1850s and contributed to Douglass’ acrimonious break with his original abolitionist associates, the followers of Boston editor William Lloyd Garrison. His growing ties to Smith enabled Douglass to leave the narrow ideological orbit of the Garrisonians and join the growing ranks of the northerners pursuing political antislavery tactics.

John R. McKivigan Ph.D. will speak further on his studies of this unique partnership during his keynote address The Gerrit Smith – Frederick Douglass Partnership for the annual dinner of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum on Saturday, October 22, 2011 at the Hall of Presidents at Colgate University in Hamilton NY.

Douglass and Smith were two of the most influential, respected, and powerful abolitionists in our nation. Both reformers were among the first five persons inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro in 2005. McKivigan will focus on the collaborative work of these two famous men.

Dr. McKivigan received his Ph.D. from Ohio State University and is currently a professor of United States History at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. McKivigan, a respected scholar of the American anti-slavery movement, was an adjunct member of the History and Afro-American and African Studies Department at Yale University from 1979 to 1989 and series co-editor of The Frederick Douglass Papers 1989 to 1992. Since 1994, McKivigan has been the director of the Frederick Douglass Papers, a documentary editing project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. McKivigan co-authored research articles on Gerrit Smith as early as 1983 with such works as The Ambivalent Six, He Stands like Jupiter: The Autobiography of Gerrit Smith, and The ‘Black Dream’ of Gerrit Smith, New York Abolitionist.

The collaborations of Douglass and Smith will be revisited at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 23 at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro when Dr. McKivigan and Dr. Norman K. Dann walk together among the structures and exhibits on abolition and the Underground Railroad further discussing the partnership of the two men and the words and deeds that transpired from their times together in Peterboro over 160 years ago.

C. James Trotman Ph.D. will close the Upstate Institute afternoon symposia at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 22 in Golden Hall at Colgate University with a tribute to Frederick Douglass as the Pioneering Reformer. Dr. Trotman is professor emeritus and the founding director of the Frederick Douglass Institute at West Chester University PA. Dr. Trotman presented for the Hall of Fame commemoration of Douglass in 2006.

The public is encouraged to attend parts or all of the annual National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum event. For the complete schedule and the registration form: www.AbolitionHoF.org or contact info@abolitionhof.org and 315-366-8101.

Judith Wellman Keynotes Annual Peterboro Tea


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Dr. Judith Wellman, well known scholar and author on the history of women’s rights and the Underground Railroad, will be the keynote speaker on Sunday, September 25 at 12:30 p.m. at the Annual In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea held at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro to celebrate Elizabeth Smith Miller’s birthday and women’s rights heritage. Miller, daughter of Ann and Gerrit Smith, is credited with creating a trouser costume in the mid 1800s that became a symbol of the women’s movement.



Dr. Wellman, author of The Road to Seneca Falls, will describe Peterboro’s role in the women’s movement, including the influence of Gerrit and Ann Smith during the summers that Elizabeth Cady Stanton spent in Peterboro, the debates over dress reform, and the inclusion of women in the Liberty League convention. Wellman states, “Everybody knows about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her work for women’s rights. But few people understand how important her cousins, Gerrit and Ann Smith and their daughter Elizabeth Smith Miller, were in shaping her reform agenda. Stanton and Elizabeth Smith Miller had a lifelong friendship, based on their shared sense of humor and their commitment to women’s rights (including dress reform). From Gerrit Smith, Stanton gained access to ideas and people at the highest levels of antislavery organization. (If you) want to hear the backstory of the Seneca Falls convention, come to this talk!”

Judith Wellman, Ph.D., is Historian and Principal Investigator, Historical New York Research Associates, and professor emerita, State University of New York at Oswego. Wellman has more than 30 years of award-winning experience in research, teaching, cultural resource surveys, and grants administration in U.S. history, women’s history, local history, Underground Railroad history, and historic preservation.

After earning her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 1974, Judith Wellman taught history at the State University of New York at Oswego. She teaches two online courses through the SUNY Learning Network and the State University of New York at Oswego: “Doing History Locally” and “Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism.”

Judith Wellman has worked as a consultant and principal investigator on award-winning projects with the National Park Service, the Mary Baker Eddy Library, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the U. S. Department of Education, the Preservation League of New York State, the New York State Office of Historic Preservation, the New York Council for the Humanities, the Documentary Heritage Program of the New York State Archives, National Public Radio, the U.S. Department of Education, the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History, and a wide variety of local historical, genealogical, teachers, women’s, and preservation groups. She also regularly gives papers at major scholarly conventions, including the Organization of American Historians, Association for the Study of African American Life, and the National Council on Public History.

Judith Wellman is a member of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, the American Association for State and Local History, the Association for the Study of African American Life, and the National Council for Public History. She is a member of the Preservation League of New York State and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is listed as a researcher for cultural resource surveys with the Preservation League of New York State and with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. She has served on the boards of the Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, the Women’s Museum and Leadership Center, the Heritage Foundation of Oswego, and the New York State History Advisory Board of the New York State Education Department. She is currently Coordinator of the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse Museum.

Wellman’s keynote Peterboro on the Road to Seneca Falls follows a tea catered by The Copper Turret of Morrisville NY and served by ladies attired in the Bloomer costume of Peterboro. Debra Kolsrud will describe ongoing history activities in Stanton’s hometown of Johnstown NY. Maxine Getty and Jody Luce will read Miller and Stanton letters. There will also be basket raffles and door prizes.

The tea is a presentation in a series of programs offered by the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro made possible, in part, by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. $35 reservations required by August 27. $40 reservations by September 17. Seating is limited. Send check to Smithfield Community Association (501c3) PO Box 42, Peterboro NY 13134 or visit www.inthekitchentea.com

Stanton and Anthony: A World Changing Friendship


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In the spring of 1851 Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were introduced to each other on a street corner in Seneca Falls NY. Immediately drawn to each other, they formed an everlasting and legendary friendship. Together, they challenged entrenched beliefs, customs, and laws that oppressed women and spearheaded the fight to gain legal rights, including the right to vote, despite fierce opposition, daunting conditions, scandalous entanglements, and betrayal by their friends and allies. Penny Colman weaves commentary, events, quotations, and personalities into her new book Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World and into her program on the two famous women’s rights activists. Continue reading

Peterboro Programs to Observe Women’s Rights


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Equality Day has been observed on August 26 since 1971 when the efforts of Congresswoman Bella Abzug succeeded in commemorating the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – the Woman Suffrage Amendment. The final programs of the 2011 Peterboro Heritage season recognize women of the 19th Century who laid the ground work for extending suffrage to disenfranchised groups.



Equality Day Weekend will be observed in Peterboro by two presentations on three women who led the women’s rights movement. On Saturday, August 27 at 2 p.m. author Penny Colman presents Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship that Changed the World, and signs her new book by the same name at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro. The next day Dr. Carol Faulkner presents her new biography Lucretia Mott’s Heresy: Abolition and Women’s History in 19th Century America at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro.

The Fourth Annual Elizabeth Smith Miller In the Kitchen Bloomer Tea will be held on Sunday, September 25 at 12:30 at the Smithfield Community Center with Dr. Judith Wellman speaking on Peterboro and the Road to Seneca Falls. Debra Kolstrud, the owner of the historical home at 9 S. William Street in Johnstown NY where Susan B. Anthony boarded in 1884 when she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote the third volume of their History of Woman Suffrage, will update on activities in Johnstown, Stanton’s hometown. Selected letters between cousins Elizabeth Smith Miller and Elizabeth Cady Stanton will be read. (Reservations are required.: $35 by August 27. $40 by September 17.) Seating is limited. For more information and online reservations visit www.inthekitchentea.com.

On Saturday, October 22 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will induct Abby Kelley Foster, the 19th Century Worcester abolitionist and women’s rights activist, into the Hall of Fame at ceremonies held at Colgate University. Stacey Robertson, Director of Women’s Studies program at Bradley University in Peoria IL, presents Abby Kelley Foster: A Radical Voice to the West at 12:30 pm in Golden Auditorium. That evening Lynne McKenney Lydick, Worcester Women’s History Project, will perform Yours for Humanity, a one woman play about Foster.

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055. Call 315-684-3262 or visit online.

For more information and updates, follow www.sca-peterboro.org and www.AbolitionHoF.org

Event Marks 1850 Fugitive Slave Act Protest


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In August 1850 Gerrit Smith and Frederick Douglass organized a two day convention of abolitionists to protest Congressional debate on the proposed Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. 2,000 people attended the meeting in Cazenovia which Ezra Greenleaf Weld captured in the famous daguerreotype image owned by the Madison County Historical Society in Oneida NY. At 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21, the 151st anniversary of the first day of that Cazenovia Convention, Norman K. Dann Ph.D. and W. Edward Edmonston Ph.D. will present Protest to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act.



Norm Dann, professor emeritus Morrisville State College, will provide a brief chronology of the events that led to the second of two laws to return escaped slaves, and outline the horrendous intent and the dreadful impact of the law on slaves and free citizens. Dann is the author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform (2009), a Steward at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, and a founder and member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.

Bill Edmonston holds Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and taught for four years in the School of Medicine, Washington University (St. Louis) before coming to Colgate University where he taught Neuroscience/Psychology for 29 years. While at Colgate he was named New York Professor of the Year and a National Gold Medalist in the CASE Professor of the Year Awards program (1988). Edmonston also held a Fulbright teaching fellowship (1982) at the University of Erlangen, Germany.

Edmonston has published three professional books, one book on the American Civil War, and two mystery novels. From 1989 to 2005 Bill and his wife Nellie, had a small publishing firm (Edmonston Publishing, Inc.) that specialized in original journals and memoirs of the American Civil War. Learning of the Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Law Convention through the publishing company’s participation in the Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend, Edmonston became especially curious about two aspects of that convention: 1) The Edmonson sisters, and 2) the lack of a pictorial depiction of the meeting other than the well-known daguerreotype.

The Edmonson sisters, who escaped slavery and who were in attendance at the Cazenovia meeting, had lived in the same area of Montgomery County, Maryland, where Bill’s ancestors had resided and held slaves. Knowing that the family name is variously spelled, Edmonston set upon a search for a possible common ancestor with the Edmonson sisters.

In 2010 Bill created an oil painting of the central figures of the Cazenovia Convention daguerreotype and donated it to the Gerrit Smith Estate NHL. Bill took up painting about a dozen years ago, and paints “whatever strikes my fancy,” including landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, still-life, people, and trompe l’oeil. Bill’s oil paintings have appeared in shows in Cooperstown, Utica, Old Forge, Albany and other venues in the upstate region. His works are in private collections in Philadelphia, New York City, Virginia Beach, Munich, Germany and the Central New York area.

The public is encouraged to attend the program at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road / 5304 Oxbow Road, Peterboro NY. Admission is two dollars. Students are free. This program is one of a series of programs provided by the Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark during 2011 and partially supported by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011.

Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0006 www.gerritsmith.org 315-684-3262 and National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134-0055 www.AbolitionHoF.org 315-684-3262

Illustration: Oil painting created by Bill Edmonston of 1850 Cazenovia Convention organized to protest the Fugitive Slave Bill.

Event: Spiritualist Fox Sisters in Petersboro


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Spiritualism was born in the spring of 1848 when Margaret and Kate Fox heard strange rappings in their Hydesville NY bedroom. Within two years the two “Rochester Rappers” with their sister Leah were touring the country communicating with spirits. The Free Church of Peterboro was one site for the rapping demonstrations. “Scraps of paper in the Gerrit Smith Papers showing questions posed to a spirit medium … revealed that the family attempted to communicate with their loved ones, including Fitzhugh and Peter, after they had died,” according to one historian.

At 2 pm on Sunday, July 24 the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro will host programs on 19th Century spiritualism with particular attention to the Fox Sisters and Peterboro’s connections to the spiritualism movement. The program is open to the public and free.

The featured speaker Nancy Rubin Stuart (Osterville, Mass) will present Maggie Fox, Victorian America’s Reluctant Spiritualist. Upstate New York teenager Maggie Fox (1833-1893) rose to national fame as Victorian America’s “reluctant spiritualist.” Young and beautiful, Maggie’s alleged ability to communicate with spirits in America’s first séances of 1848 astounded the press, and made Maggie and her sisters the darlings of Broadway. Maggie inspired hundreds of imitators, and fascinated the most prominent men and women of her era, among them Horace Greeley, James Fenimore Cooper, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Todd Lincoln, William Lloyd Garrison, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and William James. After a passionate love affair and secret marriage to distinguished Arctic explorer Dr. Elisha Kent Kane in 1856, during which Maggie promised to give up mediumship, her life took surprising twists and turns, culminating with a startling confession in 1888 at the New York Academy of Music. The lecture is accompanied by slides of Maggie Fox and her era.

Rubin explains that her purpose is neither to prove nor disprove the veracity of spirit communication, but rather to illustrate how 150 years ago the Fox sisters’ introduction of that idea swept through America and why it continues to fascinate people today. Maggie’s story is important, Rubin believes, because of passion – the passionate longing that 19th C. Americans had to once again talk with their beloved dead, and the passionate romance between Fox and Kane.

This Speakers in the Humanities event, which is free and open to the public, is made possible through the support of the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Speakers in the Humanities program has linked distinguished scholars with diverse audiences since its launch in 1983, bringing the best in humanities scholarship to thousands of people at hundreds of cultural organizations in virtually every corner of New York State. This program is just one of the ways the New York Council for the Humanities helps all New Yorkers to lead vibrant intellectual lives by strengthening traditions of cultural literacy, critical inquiry, and civic participation.

After Stuart’s presentation, popular local performers and sisters Darothy DeAngelo and Sue Greenhagen will provide a light-hearted look at early spiritualism with a vignette of the Fox Sisters during a rapping session enticing the spirits of some “dearly departed.” DeAngelo portrays Maggie, and Sue portrays Kate.

Beginning at 1 pm, Michael Keene will sell and sign his recently published book by The History Press: Folklore and Legends of Rochester: The Mystery of Hoodoo Corner & Other Tales. The book includes the story of the Fox Sisters, as well as the anti-Masonic hysteria of the early nineteenth century and the unexplained disappearance of former Mason, Captain Morgan. Keene worked for twenty-five years in the financial services industry as a financial planner. He is also the producer of an award-winning 2008 film Visions, True Stories of Spiritualism, Secret Societies & Murder, which, in part, inspired his new book.

Copies of Town of Smithfield historian Donna Burdick’s paper “Spirited Women – and Men & Their Unpopular Causes” will be on sale at the Peterboro Mercantile for the benefit of the Peterboro Area Historical Society. Burdick’s document describes Spiritualism as it was introduced and “practiced” in Peterboro. Burdick refers to written accounts of medium sessions and spiritualism conferences.

The Gerrit Smith Estate and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays until October 23, 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information:

Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134-006; call 315-280-8828 or visit www.sca-peterboro.org

Gerrit Smith Estate’s Family Day of Croquet


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Abolitionist Gerrit Smith liked to play croquet daily during the summer. In honor of Smith’s summer recreation, the Grounds Squad of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark plans to hold its second Family Day of Croquet on Sunday, July 17 from 2 – 6 p.m. on the grounds of Smith’s 19th Century home. The event will be attended by local croquet enthusiasts and a group dressed in croquet outfits. Croquet can be played by amateurs of all ages, and is enjoying a national resurgence. The public is urged to join in reviving this tradition. Croquet attire of the 19th – 21st Century or all white outfits are encouraged but not required.

During the afternoon, croquet courts and equipment will be available. Three buildings on the Gerrit Smith Estate with Heritage New York State Underground Railroad exhibits and the Peterboro Mercantile will be open. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will also be open from 1 – 5 p.m. The daily court fee is $2 per person. Gerrit Smith Estate tours cost $2 per person. Ice cream, beverages a 50-50 raffle, boxed lunches and baked goods will also be for sale.

Proceeds from the event support the preservation and promotion of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark which is a site on both the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail and the National Park Service Network to Freedom. Family Day of Croquet is one of a series of programs provided by the Stewards for the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark during 2011 and partially supported by a PACE grant from the Central New York Community Foundation. For more information on the croquet event contact Lisa Louisa Bryant at 917-578-9674 or at lisalouisabryant@yahoo.com. For a complete listing of programs, contact www.sca-peterboro.com or mail@sca-peterboro.com

Peterboro: Harriet Tubman, Maggie Fox Lectures


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The New York Council for the Humanities Speakers in the Humanities Program will provide two free presentations for the 2011 Peterboro Heritage Summer Programs.

On Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center (5255 Pleasant Valley Road in Peterboro) the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will host Harriet Tubman: Myth, Memory, and History presented by Milton C. Sernett Ph.D. Syracuse University professor emeritus. Then, on Sunday, July 24 at 2 p.m. the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro) will host Nancy Rubin Stuart and her program Maggie Fox, Victorian America’s Reluctant Spiritualist.

Milton C. Sernett’s illustrated talk tells the story of how a black woman, once enslaved but self-liberated, became the dominant symbol of the Underground Railroad and an inspiration today for American of diverse backgrounds and reform interests. The audience will hear of the exciting findings of the latest research regarding Tubman the historical person, and of the many ways in which her life has been celebrated by writers, artists, and other creative spirits. Dr. Sernett has completed a book on the interplay of myth, memory and history during the years when Tubman was being canonized as an American saint.

On Sunday, July 24, in a talk accompanied by slides, Stuart will describe the Fox Sisters’ rise to national fame as communicators with spirits, the prominent people that followed Spiritualism in the 19th Century, and the history of young and beautiful Maggie Fox after she gave up her mediumship. Rubin will illustrate how 150 years ago the Fox sisters’ introduction of spirit communication swept through American and why it continues to fascinate people today.

These programs are free and open to the public. More information can be found online, by e-mailing mail@sca-peterboro.org or calling 315-280-8828.

The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum are open from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May 14 to October 23 in 2011. Admission to each site is two dollars. Stewards and students are free. For more information: Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, 4543 Peterboro Road, Peterboro NY 13134, National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134.

Launched in 1983, the Speakers in the Humanities program brings the best in humanities scholarship to thousands of people at hundreds of cultural organizations in virtually every corner of New York. Speakers in the Humanities lectures are made possible with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York State Legislature, and through funds from the Gladys Krieble Delm.