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.
Contact the Montgomery County Department of History & Archives for more information. Also explore our suggested Underground Railroad itinerary.
America’s First Frontier: Where the Revolutionary War in the Mohawk Valley comes to life!
Your journey begins in Canajoharie (Exit 29 off the New York State Thruway) at the Van Alstyne Homestead. According to family tradition, the original structure was built by Martin Van Alstyne as early as 1729. By 1765 son Goshen Van Alstyne had converted and expanded the house to a colonial tavern. The tavern became a frequent meeting place of the Tryon County Committee of Safety and is the place where Nicholas Herkimer received his commission as General of the Tryon County Militia.