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Press Release

Publish Date: 3/18/2011

History and Archives: Underground Railroad Project, Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

"The ties that bind: Freedom seekers, African Americans, Social Reformers and the Anti-Slavery Movement in Montgomery County"

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 10am-1pm
Old Courthouse, 9 Park St., Fonda, NY

Join us on Saturday, April 2nd from 10am to 1pm for an exploration of the network of Underground Railroad and anti-slavery activity in Montgomery County. When you think of the Underground Railroad legendary figures such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Gerrit Smith and John Brown come to mind. But did you know that local families like the Clizbes, Hagamans, Swarthouts, Hartleys, Voorhees, and Freys to name a few were involved in the movement as well? The whole movement consisted of not only the physical transport of freedom seekers but also the participation in the anti-slavery conventions, church rallies and financial assistance that were prevalent here in Montgomery County from the early 1800s through the end of the Civil War. Many local African American families such as the Hokes, Jacksons, Bloods, Wilsons, and McKinneys were part of the story as well through their ancestral ties to slavery.

Stories have evolved over the years of local traditions of Underground Railroad stations and agents. With this project we are looking to convert those local traditions into fact by collaborating the stories with documentation from sources such as newspapers, property deeds, diaries, and census records from the time period. The public is invited to share stories and photographs that have been passed down as relating to local involvement in the Underground Railroad and anti-slavery movement.

Montgomery County Historian/RMO Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar will present an interactive power-point presentation on the topic of "African American Life: The Montgomery County Experience in the 19th century" at 11am. During the day, we will be recording stories and scanning photographs that the public will be sharing as part of our project. There will also be displays and a table for interested volunteers.

As Tom Calarco, author of The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region, writes "...the study of the Underground Railroad is much more than simply locating the stops and routes used by fugitive slaves. It is a story of the heroic struggle of blacks and whites working together for freedom and dignity, and of the American quest for human rights and respect for the individual."

This project is funded by Preserve New York, a grant program of the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts.