"Still They Come": Some Eyewitness Accounts of the Underground Railroad in Buffalo

Publication: Afro - Americans in New York Life and History
Author: Van Ness, Cynthia M
Date published: January 1, 2012

Buffalo's status as a destination from which African Americans escaping slavery could cross the Niagara River to reach freedom in Canada is well known. However, when reconstructing Buffalo's involvement in the Underground Railroad, the words of those who experienced it are rarely consulted. We all know that the Underground Railroad was an illegal smuggling operation and that no one kept guest books, but a surprisingly good body of evidence exists in the form of slave narratives and other first -person accounts. This article offers eyewitness testimony from men and women who passed through Buffalo while escaping from slavery and from those who assisted them.

Slave narratives, memoirs of bondage by those who survived it, are the first African American genre of literature. Thousands of slave narratives were published in North America and Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today they provide scholars with primary sources-participant or eyewitness accounts- of the means by which Africans gained their freedom.

This tradition continued into the 20th century. In 1936-1938, the Federal Writers Project interviewed elderly African-Americans who were born into slavery. Many of their stories are now available online at the American Memory Library of Congress website.2 Many slave narratives are still in print and can be found in bookstores and libraries. They are also increasingly available in full text sources such as Google Books3 and the Internet Archive. Entering the terms "slave narrative bibliography" into a search engine will deliver good author/title lists.

While this author has not yet found any first-person accounts of concealment in any of Buffalo's existing buildings, there are some excellent descriptions of what fugitives and runaways did experience when they came arrived in the city. Some stayed overnight, some found employment and knit themselves into the community, some were here so briefly that they didn't describe Buffalo at all, and some offer legends that are very interesting but hard to substantiate.

One early account of Buffalo's role in the Underground Railroad comes to us from abolitionist, orator, historian, and novelist William Wells Brown (1815-1884), who lived in Buffalo ca. 1836-1845 after escaping from slavery. Brown found work on Great Lakes steamboats, which enabled him to carry other fugitives to safety in Canada. In his autobiography, Brown wrote:

"It is well known, that a great number of fugitives make their escape to Canada, by way of Cleaveland [sic]; and while on the lake, 1 always made arrangement to carry them on the boat to Buffalo or Detroit, and thus effect their escape to the "promised land." The friends of the slave, knowing that I would transport them without charge, never failed to have a delegation when the boat arrived at Cleaveland. I have sometimes had four or five on board, at one time. In the year 1 842, 1 conveyed, from the first of May to the first of December, sixty-nine fugitives over Lake Erie to Canada."4

Brown's daughter Josephine Brown (b. 1839) later wrote a biography of her father, describing the frequent use of the family home to give unspecified assistance to those journeying to freedom.

"...Buffalo being a place through which many fugitives passed while on their way to Canada, Mr. Brown spent much time in assisting those who sought his aid. His house might literally have been called the 'fugitive's house.' As Niagara Falls were only twenty miles from Buffalo, slaveholders not unfrequently passed through the latter place attended by one or more slave servants. Mr. Brown was always on the look-out for such, to inform them that they were free by the laws of New York, and to give them necessary aid. The case of every colored servant who was seen accompanying a white person was strictly inquired into. Mr. Brown's residence also became the home of Anti-Slavery agents, and lecturers on all reformatory movements."

The 1844 Buffalo city directory identifies William Brown as a lecturer and gives his residence as 1 3 Pine Street, which was on east side of Pine at the corner of Booth Alley, between South Division and Swan Streets. This the only Buffalo address that the author has found to date which is positively identified by a contemporaneous African American witness as an Underground Railroad site. Unfortunately, this block of Pine was leveled as part of urban renewal and today hosts late 20th century homes and buildings. Booth Alley was cleared and removed. No pictures of Pine Street during the 1 9th century are known to exist.

Considering Buffalo's relative wealth of pre-Civil War structures, many assume that the city is dotted with former hiding places. This is simply not the case. As Buffalo historian Frank H. Severance (1856-1931) observed, "The Buffalo of ante-bellum [before the Civil War] days was not a large place, and many personally escorted refugees were taken directly from country stations to the river ferries, without having to be hid in the city."6

Severance was the Secretary of the Buffalo Historical Society (now called the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society) and served as its leading author and scholar. He was the first historian to study the Niagara Frontier's role in the Underground Railroad. For a chapter in the second edition of his book Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier, Severance interviewed African Canadians who had escaped from slavery.

In Fort Erie, Severance met Mrs. Betsy Robinson, who was born on a Virginia plantation. Her entire family escaped in the early 19th century, eventually arriving in Ontario "a good while before the Canadian Rebellion," which was in 1837. Mrs. Robinson, who was a child at the time, recalls:

"There was no railroads in them days, an' I don't remember's we got any wagon-rides. You see, we was so many, nine in all. I remember we went to Erie, and came through Fredonia. We walked through Buffalo-it was little then, you know-and down the river road. My father missed the Black Rock ferry an' we went away down where the bridge is now. I remember we had to walk back up die river, and then we got brought across to Fort Erie."7

The "river road" upon which Mrs. Robinson's family walked must have been Niagara Street, which parallels the Niagara River and led to the Black Rock Ferry, which once docked at the foot of Ferry Street. Today this site is part of Broderick Park and a marker notes its role in the Underground Railroad.

James Adams passed through Buffalo in 1824, probably also on Niagara Street. His story, which we pick up outside of Cleveland, involves a personal escort, as indicated by Severance:

"At about four, we met a preacher, who was just come from Cleveland. He asked us if we were making our escape,- we told him "No." He said, "You need not be afraid of me,-I am the friend of all who travel from the South to the North." He told us not to go into Cleveland, as we would be taken up. He then described a house which was on our way, where, he said, we might mention our meeting him, and we would find friends who would put us on 1 board a boat. We hid until dark,-then we went to the house, which we recognized readily from the preacher's description. We knocked at the door, and were invited in. My cousin told them what the minister had said. The man of the house hid us in his bam two nights and three days. He was a shoemaker. The next night after we got there, he went to Cleveland himself to get a berth for us aboard some boat for Canada. When he returned, he said he had found a passage for us with Capt. B., who was to sail the next Thursday at 10, P. M. At that. hour we embarked, having a free passage in a schooner for Buffalo. On board this boat, we met with an Englishman whom we had often seen on a steamboat at the plantation. He knew us, and told us a reward of one hundred dollars was offered for each of us, and he showed us several handbills to that effect. He said they had been given him to put up along the road, but he had preferred to keep them in his pocket. Capt. B. took away our knives and Ben's tomahawk, for fear of mischief.

We reached Buffalo at 4 P. M. The captain said, that if there was any danger in the town, he would take us in his yawl and put us across. He walked through the town to see if there were any bills up. Finding no danger, he took us out of the hatchway,-he walked with us as far as Black Rock Ferry, giving us good advice all the way, how we should conduct ourselves through life in Canada, and we have never departed from his directions,~his counsel was good, and I have kept it.8

Josiah Henson (1789-1883), who is believed to have inspired the title character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Ca bin, journeyed through Buffalo in 1830. In his autobiography, Henson writes of finding passage for his family aboard a schooner leaving Sandusky, Ohio, with an especially moving landfall in Canada. Henson does not give details, but he implies that the passengers stayed aboard the vessel while anchored overnight at Buffalo:

"...never till my dying day shall 1 forget the shout of the captain-he was a Scotchman-'Coom up on deck, and clop your wings and craw like a rooster; you're a free nigger as sure as the devil.' Round went the vessel, the wind plunged into her sails as though inoculated with the common feeling-thè water seethed and hissed passed her sides. Man and nature, and, more than all, 1 felt the God of man and nature, who breathes love into the heart and maketh the winds his ministers, were with us. My happiness, that night, rose at times to positive pain. Unnerved by so sudden a change from destitution and danger to such kindness and blessed security, I wept like a child.

The next evening we reached Buffalo, but it was too late to cross the river that night. 'You see those trees,' said the noble hearted captain next morning, pointing to a group in the distance; 'they grow on free soil, and as soon as your feet touch that you're a mon. I want to see you go and be a freeman. I'm poor myself, and have nothing to give you; I only sail the boat for wages; but I'll see you across. Here Green,' said he to a ferryman; 'what will you take this man and his family over for-he's got no money?' Three shillings.' He then took a dollar out of his pocket and gave it to me. Never shall I forget the spirit in which he spoke. He put his hand on my head and said, 1Be a good fellow, won't you?' I felt streams of emotion running down in electric courses from head to foot. 'Yes,' said I; 'I'll use my freedom well; I'll give my soul to God.' He stood waving his hat as we pushed off for the opposite shore. God bless him! God bless him eternally! Amen!

It was the 28th of October, 1830, in the morning, when my feet first touched the Canada shore. 1 threw myself on the ground, rolled in the sand, seized handfuls of it and kissed them, and danced round till, in the eyes of several who were present, I passed for a madman. 'He's some crazy fellow,' said a Colonel Warren, who happened to be there. O, no, master! don't you know? I'm free!' He burst into a shout of laughter. 'Well, 1 never knew freedom make a man roll in the sand in such a fashion.' Still I could not control myself. I hugged and kissed my wife and children, and, until the first exuberant burst of feeling was over, went on as before."9

Some slave narratives do mention Buffalo but usually omit details about how and where their authors spent their time here, perhaps because Buffalo was a brief, uneventful transfer point. J.D. Green's story is typical:

"..I was taken to the railway depot in a carriage- was put in the car, and sent to Cleveland, Ohio, where I was placed aboard a steam boat called the Indiana, and carried down Lake Erie to the City of Buffalo, New York, and the next day placed on the car to Niagara Falls, and received by a gentleman named Jones, who took me in his carriage to a place called Lewiston, where I was placed on board a steamboat called Chief Justice Robinson. I was furnished with a ticket and twelve dollars. Three hours after starting I was in Toronto, Upper Canada, where 1 lived for three years and sang my song of deliverance."10

African-American newspapers are an essential source for Underground Railroad activity. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), an abolitionist, journalist, and orator who was born into slavery, published the North Star, an anti-slavery newspaper in Rochester which carried news from many cities. In 1855^ Douglass published an extraordinarily detailed letter from George Weir, Jr.', a Buffalo grocer and abolitionist. Weir defiantly boasted of his Underground Railroad efforts, including the use of a Buffalo "public house" to shelter fugitives from Kentucky. At the time of Weir's letter, the Fugitive Slave Act, signed into law by President Millard Fillmore, had been in effect for four years. The Fugitive Slave Act not only authorized not only the forcible return of fugitive slaves to their masters, but five years imprisonment to anyone who helped a suspected fugitive.11

"Stili They Come: Underground Railroad in Active Operation."

Buffalo, Dec. 11, 1854.

Mr. Editor:

A few mornings since, I was awakened at an early hour by an immense noise and confusion at my door. Being suddenly awakened, I sprang up, and ran down stairs to ascertain the cause of such strange excitement. When, to my surprise, 1 found notwithstanding the "immense heavy snow drifts" that a train of ears belonging to the Underground Railroad had just arrived, bringing eight passengers, six men and two women, all direct from "Old Kentuck." Of course the doors of the depot were thrown open, and in they marched, rank and file, led by T.R. Esq., one of the conductors on the road. After a few moment's conversation, we conducted them to a public house kept by one of our people. When they had an opportunity of thoroughly wanning and refreshing themselves the inner as well as outer man they were allowed to remain with us until one o'clock, when a sleigh was provided, and the eight happy souls, in charge of Phoenix Lansing, esq., one of our active and energetic townsmen, were driven to Black Rock, and in a few moment's more were safely landed on the other side of Jordan when one universal shout of joy ascended to Him who had been their guide and guardian from a land of slavery and despotism to a land of liberty and light." [emphasis in original]12

A "public house" is defined as "a place, such as a tavern or bar, that is licensed to sell alcoholic beverages."11 It is a poor choice if one's primary need is for concealment, which indicates that Weir and his allies had confidence that the travelers would be unmolested in such a visible location. In the 1854 Buffalo city directory, George Weir's home and grocery were at the corner of Pine and N. Division, making him a neighbor of William Wells Brown.

Weir's father, George Sr., was pastor of the Vine Street African Methodist Episcopal Church14, a congregation which survives today as Durham Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church on East Eagle Street.15 This author speculates that the Vine Street church was not used because it did not provide what the travelers needed: food, drink, and heat.

A article in the Chatham, Ontario Provincia! Freeman from the same period confirms Weir's judgment. Under the headline, "The Fugitive Slave Law a Dead Letter" (December 8, 1 855), we learn of a slave owner, Captain John Harness of Hardy County (West Virginia), who traveled to Buffalo to retrieve a former slave who was imprisoned on a minor charge. He solicited every lawyer in town and found no one willing to take the case. Harness was even warned that "if he obtained possession of the Négro, the mob would rescue him." He left Buffalo empty-handed."' The Provincial Freeman was edited and published by Mary Ann Shadd (1823-1893), a free-born African American who lived in Canada in the 185Os and advocated for abolition and racial integration.

So far, all of our narrators have been African American. George Washington Jonson (1801-1880), a wealthy white Buffalo lawyer, was a vocal abolitionist. His diary entry on July 24, 1 847, also tells of employing a public or boarding house to temporarily shelter a family escaping from slavery. While waiting for lodgings to be found, they waited on the sidewalk in front of the home of Rev. George Hosmer. The 1 849 Buffalo city directory indicates that Rev. Hosmer lived at 60 W. Mohawk, presently the site of the Statler Hotel, while Jonson boarded with E.A. Marsh at the corner of Pearl and Niagara, presently the site of the Main Place Mall. Jonson wrote:

"...a man rattled at my office door. Opened hesitantly. It was Rev. G. W. Hosmer, Unitarian minister of Buffalo. Wanted my aid. Was very much agitated, he. A minister named East had commended to his care a colored fugitive slave, wife, children... Hurried off with H. to rouse some of the colored folks here to take them. Not a Negro in the streets. Went way over to Quarles on Michigan street.. .got his son to go to a colored boarding house, and after much debate, induced three or four blacks to accompany me to Hosmer's where Brown/the fugitive and family were. It was now raining smartly. Found the fugitives on the side walk. ..Young their white guide, holding, an umbrella over them. Young went to Hosmers. The fugitives were quartered among the colored pepple...! learned the next day that Brown had escaped from prison in Philadelphia. ..The next day Brown went on to Detroit. 1 gave Rev. Young a letter of introduction to Charles H. Stewart there, commending to him the Browns ...Quite an amount contributed here for the fugitives...! must do Dandridge and other colored men the justice to say they did their whole duty... I laugh at Hosmer's nervousness and fussing, this being his first experience in such business, which he contrived to shirk on me and the colored folks. Why did he not take the whole family into his spacious house, temporarily at least? But H. did much and is a good man-fora priest."17

We now know from two independent witnesses that Buffalo's "colored" boarding houses and taverns provided shelter for people escaping to Canada, and that concealment was not the top priority of those who assisted them. In the 1855 Buffalo city directory, the first for which we have a list of boarding house proprietors and addresses, Buffalo had 3 1 boarding houses.18 Further research is needed to identify which of these sites were owned by African-Americans.

Walter Hawkins (1809-1894) was a bishop in the British Methodist Episcopal (BME) Church, the Canadian counterpart of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church in the United States. His story comes to us from biographer Celestine Edwards (1858-1894) and includes an entire chapter to Hawkins' Buffalo years.19

In 1 837, Hawkins' escape from slavery brought him to Buffalo by way of the Erie Canal. Upon disembarking in the Canal district, he began asking for introductions to other African Americans and was directed to the proprietor of a "whiskey den." This may have been Dug's Dive on the Commercial Slip, a squalid saloon and boarding house owned and operated by William Douglas, who was born into slavery in Tennessee around 1800.20 Reluctant to step inside a disreputable place, Hawkins lingered on the street, unsure what to do next.

Upon being greeted by an old man, Hawkins inquired how far it was to Canada and was disappointed when the old man pointed to the forest on the other side of the river. Hawkins hoped to see some sign of human occupation. The old man further claimed that Canadians were starving and wages were only $.10 a day. Discouraged, hungry, and thirsty, Hawkins was rescued by an "old Negress" who lived down the street. In a remarkable coincidence, she gave her name as Hawkins and said that she had also escaped from slavery. Guest and host speculated on the chances that they were related. Unfortunately, Buffalo city directories from the period do not confirm the existence of Mrs. Hawkins.

Mrs. Hawkins fed and housed Walter and helped him find employment as a waiter for an unnamed but ill-tempered hotel proprietor, the first time that he could negotiate his own wages. During his three years in Buffalo, Mr. Hawkins learned to read and write, married, and helped organize the construction of the first Black church in Buffalo, the aforementioned Vine Street AME Church. Most sources indicate that Vine Street AME congregation organized itself in 1831, before Mr. Hawkins arrived. It took them several years to raise the money and secure a site for their own house of worship. 21 Hawkins left Buffalo around 1840 in disgust after the hotel proprietor cheated him out of his wages. He eventually settled in Ontario, where he became a bishop in the BME church.

Samuel Ringgold Ward (1817-ca. 1866) shares two marvelous stories that were told to him about anonymous runaways crossing the Niagara River. Miss Martineau is British sociologist Harriet Martineau (1802-1876), of which Ward says, "Miss Martineau was told by a gentleman, that the sublimest sight in North America is the leap of a slave from a boat to the Canadian shore. That 'leap' transforms him from a marketable chattel to a free man. Hence that 'leap1 is far more sublime than the plunge of the Niagara River from its natural bed to the deep, deep, receptacle of its voluminous waters, far below."22 Ward's story begins:

"...He arrived at the Niagara River without serious mishap, and was just about to cross, and make the "leap" of which Miss Martineau speaks. But he cautiously approached the river's brink, and looked up and down before borrowing [emphasis in original] a boat, there being no ferry very near, and he preferring to cross quietly and privately, in that manner: but down the river he saw a man fishing, whose appearance he did not particularly like. He hesitated. The man turned his face towards him. It was the face of his master! In an instant, he ranalmost flew- from the margin of the river, to gain the suspension bridge close at hand, and cross it. His master pursued. On he flew: he gained the bridge; so did his master. He ran for life, and liberty~the master ran for property: the former had freedom to win, the latter feared the loss of chattel. On both ran, the Negro being ahead some few "lengths," and showing a most practical disposition to keep so. The keeper of the tollgate encouraged the Negro, who, though breathless, redoubled his energies and almost multiplied his speed at every bound, until he reached the Canadian end of the bridge-when he suddenly stopped, his haste being over, the goal having been reached, the prize won. He looked his former master, who had just "arrived in time to be too late," calmly in the eye, with a smile of satisfaction and triumph overspreading his features. The two were equals: both were free. The former slave knew it right well. Hence that calm triumphant smile."23

There are reasons to regard this story as folklore, not fact. A fugitive outrunning his master across a bridge is plausible, but so is a storyteller's need to heighten the drama. The Suspension Bridge, built in 1848, was the sole bridge across the Niagara River when Ward published his book in 1856. There was no quick or easy run from water's edge at the bottom of a treacherous 1 80 foot gorge to the tollgate above. One route was Biddle's Stairs, a spiral staircase built in 1829. It was accessible only from Goat Island and delivered tourists to the Cave of the Winds between the American and Canadian falls. Another was "a steep path" with light footbridges and handrails.24 Ward then recounts a popular legend:

"I heard of one who, like the man just spoken of, reached the Erie River25 at Black Rock, near Buffalo, and in sight of that Canada which had been the object of his fondest desires, and had actually gone upon the ferryboat to be conveyed to his much-wished-for free home. The ferryman was loosing the boat from the shore, when, to his utter dismay, up rode his master upon a foaming steed, and with a look "like the sunshine when it flashes on steel," drew his loaded pistol, and plainly told the ferryman- "If you loose that boat to convey my Negro to the opposite bank, I'll 6/oiv your brains out!" The Negro in an instant seized a handspike, and, holding it menacingly over the ferryman's head, said, "If you don't loose the boat and ferry me across, I'll beat your brains out!" The ferryman, one of the best of his class, a Yankee, friendly to the Negro, looked a moment, first at the one and then at the other, seeing both equally determined and decided, and expressed his decision. He said coolly, "Wall! I can't die but once; and if I die, I guess I would rather die doing right. So here goes the boat."

He loosed it and shoved it off. While this was being done, the slaveholder, seeing his slave, who had always 'fanned him while he slept, and trembled when he woke,' defy him, with a threatening gesture at a white man, was thunderstruck. He sat in mute astonishment. His countenance reflected the state of his surprised mind. He was transfixed, as it were, to his saddle. He gazed with a stupid glare, as if he saw not, while the boat sped her way Canada-wards! The Negro, on the other hand, watched every inch of progress which widened the distance betwixt the two shores, until, not waiting for the boat to touch, he ran back to the stem, and then, with a full bound like a nimble deer, sprang from the boat to the shore in advance of the boat, and, rising, took off his poor old hat, and gave three cheers for the British sovereign." [emphasis in original]26

The earliest known appearance of this anecdote is the Third Annual Report of the American Anti-Slavery Society, (1836, p. 2O).27 It is attributed to Alvan Stewart (1790-1849) of Utica, who told the story at their meeting in New York. In Stewart's detailed version, the unnamed runaway escaped from Georgia about three years earlier (thus around 1833) with his wife and children, who he sheltered with an unnamed Native tribe before entering Buffalo, hi Buffalo he met a colored barber, who arranged to have a carriage deliver the family to the ferry dock that night. According to Stewart, it was the barber, not the runaway, who threatened the ferry operator when the slave owner galloped up aiming a pistol and it .was men at work nearby on the steamboat Henry Clay who gave three cheers when the ferry safely left shore.

It is tempting to speculate that the barber was James Monroe Whitfield (1822-1871), a poet and abolitionist who published his first book in Buffalo in 185328 while operating a barber shop, but in 1833, Whitfield was only 11. He was not known to live in Buffalo until 1839.29 The Henry Clay, a steamboat built at Black Rock in 1825, was reportedly enrolled at the Port of Buffalo in April 1826, April 1828, May 1829, May 1830, and June 183 1.30 Variations of "I will die doing right" appeared in multiple sources in the following decades.

No book length history of the Underground Railroad in the Buffalo area has ever been published. If and when that project is undertaken, accounts from slave narratives and African-American newspapers form an essential body of evidence in the words of those who not only "made the leap" but published their stories. These neglected voices must speak again in all future scholarship if we are to fully understand one key city's role in America's first freedom movement.

2 Federal Writers' Project and Library of Congress, Bom in Slavery:. Slave Narratives from lhe Federal Writers' Project. /Wrt- IV38, (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 2001), http://niemory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhoine.htiTil (accessed IO May 2011). .

3 http://books.google.com/

4 William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown: An American Slave, (Boston: The Anti-Slavery Office, 1847), 107. http://tinyurl.com/3qlojef(accessed 10 May 2011).

5 Josephine Brown, Biography of An American Bondman, (Boston: R. F. Wallcutt, 1855), 52-53. http://docsouth.unc.edu/nelvbrownj/menu.html (accessed IO May 2011).

6 Frank H. Severance; Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier, (Búllalo: MathewsNorthrupCo., 1899), 195. http://www.archive.org/details/oldtrailsniagaraOOseverich (accessed I O May 20 II).

7 Severance, 242.

8 Benjamin Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, the Refugee: or. The narratives of fugitive slaves in Canada related by themselves, with an account of the history and condition of the colored population of Upper Canada. (Boston: John P. Jewett & co., 1 856), 27-28. http://tinyurl.com/436cf5d (accessed 10 May 2011).

9 Josiah Henson, and Harriet Elizabeth (Beecher) Stowe, Truth Stranger than Fiction: Father Henson's Story of His Own Life, (Boston: J.P. Jewett and Co., 1858), 125-127. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/lienson58/henson58.iitml (accessed IO May 2011).

10 Yuval Taylor, / Was Born a Slave: An Anthology of Classic Stave Narratives, (Chicago: Lawrence Hill Books. 1999), 710.

11 "Fugitive Slave Acts." Encyclopaedia Britlanica. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/221475/Fugitive-Slave-Acts (accessed 5 May 2009).

12 George Weir, Jr., "Still They Come: Underground Railroad in Active Operalion." Frederick Oong/ass Paper, 4 January 1855.

13 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin,2000).

14 Monroe Fordham Center, date unknown. "African American Activists in Buffalo, NY." hUp://www.monroefoKlnam.org/docs/Antebellum%20Biograpliies.pdf (accessed I O May 20 11).

15 Richard. Stewart, "Preservation Profile: "Durham Memorial A. M. E. Zion Church: Making the Dream a Reality." New York Landmarks Conservancy Common Bond, Vol. 10, No. I , April 1 994. http://tinyurl.com/6ptjh88 (accessed 1 3 December 20 1 1 ).

16 "The Fugitive Slave Law a Dead Letter." 8 December 1855. http:/7www.accessible.com/accessible/texl/freedom/00000291 /?0029141.htm (accessed 25 November 2005).

17 Elwin H. Powell, News from the Aceldama: Black ana White Relations as Revealed by the Journal ofGeorge Washington Jonson:(I832-fi8), (Buffalo: s.n., 1976), 12.

18 Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo, (Buffalo, NY: Thomas and Lathrop, 1855), 271. (K) May 201 1), http://tinyurl.com/31i42qkz (accessed IO May 201 1).

19 S. J. Celestine Edwards, From Slavery to a Bishopric: or. The Life of Bishop Waller llawkins of the British Methodist Episcopal Church, Canada, (London: J. Kensit, 1891), http://www.archive.org/details/fromslaveryOOedwauoft (accessed 10 May 2011).

20 Baker, Dave. "Dug's Dive: Endangered Buffalo Heritage Site." Buffa/o Architecture and History, http://www.buffaloah.corn/li/dug/dug.htinl (accessed 7 May 2009).

21 Slewart, Ibid.

22 Samuel Ringgold Ward, Autobiography of a fugitive negro his anli-sla\ ery labors in the United Slates. Canada & England. London: J. Snow, 1855), 176. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/wards/menu.html (accessed 10 May 2011).

23 Warf, p. 158

24 Annie Brassey, Baggage & Boots, or. Smith's First Peep at America: An Instructive Tale of Travel and Adventure, (London: Published for the author by the Sunday School Union, 1883), 281-282. http://www.archtve.org/details/cihm_00078 (accessed 10 May 20 H).

25 Ward meant the Niagara River.

26 Ward, pp. 177-179.

27 American Anti-Slavery Society. 1836. Tliird annual report of the American AntiSlavery Society: with the speeches delivered at the anniversary meeting, held in the city of New-York, on the It)Ih May. 1836 : and the minutes of the meetings of the society for business. New York: Printed by W.S. Dorr, http://tinyuri.com/3gldqjo (accessed 10 May 20 1 1).

28 James Monroe Whitfield, America and Other Poemi, (Buffalo, N. Y.: James S. Leavitt, 1853). http://www.archive.org/details/americaotheipoem00whit (accessed 10 May 2011).

29 Joan R. Shcrman, "Whitfscid, James Monroe," The Concise Oxford Companion to African American Literature, edited by William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Hams, Oxford African American Studies Center. http://www.oxfordaasc.coin/article/opr/t52/e625 (accessed 05 May 2009).

30 Walter Lewis, "Henry Clay," Maritime History of the Great Lakes, Halinet http://www.halinet.on.ca/Greatlakes/enrolment/Enrolment.asp'.'Event ID= 1 90 (accessed 5 May 2009).

Author affiliation:

Cynthia M. Van Ness1

Author affiliation:

1 The author is the director of Library & Archives at the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society. This article is the result of personal research and is dedicated to the memory of Robert N. Davis ( 1 955-2007), founder of the Buffalo Genealogical Society of the African Diaspora.

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