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The Underground Railroad in the Finger Lakes

The fight against slavery as a "tradition" and the desire to help escaped slaves was strong and active in the Finger Lakes for several reasons. 1) New York was a "free" state. 2) A number of prominent people who worked hard against slavery lived in or near the Finger Lakes. 3) The location of the Finger Lakes meant that many slaves passed through the Finger Lakes on their way to freedom in Canada.

 

At the time of the Underground Railroad, every city in the Finger Lakes had active groups of people who allowed slaves to take respite in their homes, and just about every small hamlet throughout the region had some home or farm that did the same. But many of these places were so secret that, even today, no one knows where all of them were.

 

It's impossible to know who all the people were who helped slaves and to give them credit for their brave acts of kindness. Some of the more outspoken or openly active ones are listed below.

Sculpture depicting "The Jerry Rescue" located in Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse, New York.PEOPLE

Frederick Douglass
Millard Fillmore
Matilda Joslyn Gage
William "Jerry" Henry
John W. Jones
Jarmain (Jermain) Loguen
William Marks
Samuel Joseph May
William H. Seward
Gerrit Smith
Harriet Tubman

PLACES

Cayuga County

Fort Hill Cemetery

19 Fort St.

Auburn, NY 13201

315-253-8132

Many notable people are buried here, including William H. Seward and Harriet Tubman.

Howland Stone Store Museum

2956 State Route 34B (Hamlet of Sherwood)

Aurora, NY 13026

315-364-8307

A beautiful 1837 cobblestone store owned by Slocum Howland that acted as a station on the Underground Railroad and a source of employment for escaped slaves.

William H. Seward House

33 South St.

Auburn, NY 13021

The life and times of abolitionist and former secretary of state William H. Seward and his family. On the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historic Landmark, and on the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

Harriet Tubman Home

180 South St.

Auburn, NY 13201

315-252-2081

Four buildings, including the home Harriet Tubman owned and lived in while in Auburn, on 26 acres.

Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged (Harriet Tubman Museum)

180-182 South St.

Auburn, NY 13021

Period: 1900-1924

The life of Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), abolitionist, humanitarian. On the National Register of Historic Places, designated a National Historic Landmark, and on the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

Chemung County

John W. Jones House (John W. Jones Museum)

1250 Davis St.

Elmira, NY 14901

Period: 1850-1924

The life of abolitionist John W. Jones (1817-1900). On the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

Woodlawn Cemetery

1200 Walnut St.

Elmira, NY 14905

607-732-0151

Along with many other well-known people associated with Elmira such as Hal Roach and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and the many Civil War prisoners he kept record of, John W. Jones is buried in this national cemetery.

Monroe County

Frederick Douglass Resource Center

36 King St.

Rochester, NY 14608

The center provides in-depth information on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass and others involved in the movements for the abolition of slavery and civil rights. Resource library, cultural gallery, classrooms and meeting space.

Mt. Hope Cemetery

791 Mt. Hope Ave.

Rochester, NY 14620

585-461-3494

Burial site of many well-known Rochesterians, including Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony.

Onondaga County

Harriet May Mills House (Harriet Smith and CDB Mills House)

1074 W. Genesee St.

Syracuse, NY 13204

On the National Register of Historic Places, this house is associated with abolitionist Harriet May Mills (1826-1928). See more information on Mills and the house. The house is privately owned and not open to the public.

James Canning Fuller and Lydia Charleton Fuller House

98 W. Genesee St.

Skaneateles, NY 13152

Designed by architects Peter Thompson and John Billing, this large Federal-style house acted as a station on the Underground Railroad. It is privately owned and not open to the public.

Jerry Rescue Memorial Site

Clinton Square

Syracuse, NY 13202

Sculpture depicting the rescue of William "Jerry" Henry from U.S. marshals who wanted to send him back into slavery.

Matilda Joslyn Gage House

The Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation

210 E. Genesee St.

Fayetteville, NY 13066

315-637-9511

Huge Federal-style house that served as a station on the Underground Railroad.

Oakwood Cemetery

940 Comstock Ave.

Syracuse, NY 13205

315-475--2194

Burial site of Jarmain Loguen and other participants in the Undergeround Railroad in Syracuse.

Onondaga Historical Association Museum

321 Montgomery St.

Syracuse, NY 13202

315-428-1864

Artwork, clothing, the decorative arts, toys, American Indians, the Underground Railroad, and other historical events and artifacts dealing with Syracuse and Onondaga County. Museum shop.

Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ

232 E. Onondaga St.

Syracuse, NY 13202

315-474-4836

Large red brick church once pastored by well-known abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher. This church has a long history as a refuge for escaped slaves and as a pulpit for anti-slavery sentiments.

Seneca County

Hunt House

401 E. Main St.

Waterloo, NY 13165

315-568-2991

The home of Jane C. Hunt and Richard Pell Hunt. Richard Hunt was a Quaker and the richest man in Waterloo. He owned several farms and was secretary of the Waterloo Woolen Factory. With a partner, he also owned a dry-goods store called Hunt and Hoyt. He made a contribution to build the Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls and supported the anti-slavery movement. In 1842 he was vice-president of the American Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester, and it is suspected that the Hunt house was a way-station on the Underground Railroad. In 1845 he was married for the fourth time to June Clothier Master. The house was the location where Jane Hunt and other activists met to plan the women's rights convention. Richard Hunt was directly related to eight signers of the Declaration of Sentiments. The house is part of the Women's Right National Historical Park.

M'Clintock House

14 E. William St.

Waterloo, NY 13165

The former home of Quakers Thomas and Mary Ann M'Clintock. The house was a station on the Underground Railroad and the place where the women's rights Declaration of Sentiments was drafted.

Rose Hill Mansion

State Rt. 96A

Hamlet of Rose Hill

Fayette, NY 13065

Former site of one of the largest concentrations of slaves in Upstate New York. The mansion, designated a National Historic Landmark, is now owned by the Geneva Historical Society and open to the public.

Tompkins County

Yates County

Esperanza Mansion

3456 State Rt. 54A

Keuka Park, NY 14478

Finished in 1838 and belonging to John Nicholas Rose, this 19-room Greek Revival mansion is thought to have been a safe house for slaves on their way from Bath to Penn Yan.

BOOKS ABOUT THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

WEB SITES OF INTEREST

Underground Railroad Heritage Trail
Preservation Association of Central New York: Freedom Trail
Many Roads to Freedom: The Underground Railroad in Rochester and Vicinity
Many Roads to Freedom: Historical Markers and Plaques
The Underground Railroad in New York State
AKWAABA: The Heritage Associates
Frederick Douglass Resource Center
Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies
Underground Railroad, Abolitionism and African American Life in Seneca County

WAYMARKS

Freeman Home--Middleport

Pitts Mansion--Honeoye

Richardson Farm--Henriettta

Warrant Homestead--Rochester

 

Updated 9 April 2009

 

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