Marjory Allen Perez, former Wayne County Historian, has announced the completion of her new book, Final Stop, Freedom!: The Underground Railroad Experience in Wayne County, New York (Herons Bend Productions, 2017).
The book includes biographical sketches of men and women who boarded the Underground Railroad between 1800 and 1865. Thomas and Agnes Watkins were brought as slaves from Virginia to Sodus Bay by Captain William Helm about 1800. In 1810 they fled from slavery, taking with them their infant son, Edward. Loyd and Susan Chase and their six children arrived in Macedon, New York about 1844, but within a few years felt compelled to continue their journey to freedom, moving to Canada. In 1863, William Scott, then known as William Bacome, took advantage of the disruptions of the Civil War in Tennessee to begin his odyssey to freedom, traveling first to Massachusetts and eventually to Huron, New York, where he set down deep routes and raised his family. Continue reading
339 West 29th Street, aka the Hopper-Gibbons House in the Lamartine Place Historic District is a former Underground Railroad stop in Chelsea, Manhattan.
The house and the row was designated as an historic district for cultural reasons – the family of no. 339 was violently attacked in the 1863 Draft Riots for harboring runaway slaves. The abolitionists escaped via the rooftop, hopping house to house until ultimately making a safe exit through a neighboring home. Continue reading
Joseph McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, will spend Friday night, September 9th, in a cellar kitchen at Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz as part of the historian’s ongoing mission to bring awareness to former slave dwellings’ existence, history, and need for preservation.
Six SUNY New Paltz students and several members of the public will be invited to join McGill and his associate Terry James to share in this symbolic return to a time when even northern households enslaved Africans. Continue reading
In April, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that Harriet Tubman will be featured on the front of new $20 bills. Tubman is the first woman to appear on modern U.S. currency. She displaces former president Andrew Jackson, whose image will move to the back of the bill.
Lew’s decision came after a year’s discussion, including soliciting public input, on images for redesigned currency. Continue reading
While recently investigating the dismal record of the Amistad Commission, I came across the Underground Railroad portion of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (State Parks) – there I found reference to the New York State Freedom Trail, which began as a state project with similarly high hopes and followed the same trajectory to substandard results.
According to the State Parks webpage: “The New York State Freedom Trail Act of 1997 proposed the establishment of a Freedom Trail Commission to plan and implement a New York State Freedom Trail program to commemorate these acts of freedom and to foster public understanding of their significance in New York State history and heritage.”
Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that historian Eric Foner will be awarded with New-York Historical’s annual American History Book Prize for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2015). The award recognizes the best book of the year in the field of American history or biography.
Professor Foner will receive a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal, and the title of American Historian Laureate, which will be presented on April 8, 2016. The ceremony is part of New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council Weekend with History, a two-day event featuring an array of speakers discussing important historical events that have impacted New York City and the nation. Continue reading
Between the 1830s and 1860s, a clandestine communications and transportation network called the “Underground Railroad” helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom.
In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, we investigate this secret network with Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/059
The annual New York State History Conference, held at the end of June at Niagara University, demonstrated once again the robust diversity of the state’s historical community and its research, projects, and initiatives. There were many interesting sessions but I wanted to share impressions of five particularly interesting and important themes.
Cooperation. Paul D’Ambrosio, President of the New York State Historical Association, in welcoming conference attendees, emphasized the essential role of cooperation in sponsoring, organizing, and managing the conference. Continue reading
This week “The Historians” podcast features an interview with Tom Calarco, who has written six books on the Underground Railroad. Calarco and Don Papson are co authors of Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and The Record of Fugitives. (McFarland, 2015). Listen at “The Historians” online archive here.
The Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS) has opened a new exhibit titled “John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy.” The exhibit is free and open to the public.
“John Henry & the Baltimores of Troy” features over a dozen 19th century photographs of the Henry family who lived in Whitehall, New York. The photographs were re-discovered a few years ago at the Whitehall Library when Clifford Oliver, a photographer who lives in Greenwich, NY, was alerted to their existence. The photos tell the story of the Henry family who were related by marriage to the prominent abolitionist Baltimore family of Troy, NY. Some of the individuals are identified and others are awaiting further research to connect names to their faces. Continue reading