Sites Relating to the
Freedom Trail, Abolitionism, and African American Life in
Syracuse and Onondaga County
The following list is grouped by geographic area and by type of site:
standing buildings directly related to the Freedom Trail, abolitionism, or African American life.
possible archeological sites.
related sites, not directly related to the Freedom Trail, that nevertheless provide an important context.
possible sites. Several other standing buildings in Onondaga County could in all probability be identified with a reasonable amount of further research.
With five exceptions (site of the AME Zion Church, site of Thomas and Jane Leonard's home, site of William R. and Mary L. Edwards' home, site of the Wandell home, and site of Jermain and Caroline Loguen's home), this list does not include potential tourism and interpretive sites that were historically important but now have only modern buildings (e.g. the site of the Townsend Block, Syracuse House, or Market Hall).
Descriptions of each site are available in the full report, on the web at PACNY.net and in hard copies at the Onondaga Historical Association, the Onondaga County Clerk's Office, the Onondaga County Public Library, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Library at Syracuse University. "NR" designates sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
A. Downtown Syracuse
1. Standing buildings
a. Courier Building-site of Daniel Webster’s challenge to the people of Syracuse, May 1851. NW corner of East Washington and Montgomery Streets.
b. Dana Block-site of George Vashon’s law office and rooms, 1851.
Vashon was the first African American lawyer in New York State, and first professor of classics at Howard University. On the NR as part of a district. NW corner Warren and Water Streets
c. Wesleyan Church-original site of carved faces, which may
date to the mid-19th century. This church was built by a
biracial congregation, some of whom were freedom seekers
themselves. Rev. Luther Lee was extremely active in the
underground railroad. NR. Columbus Circle
d. Plymouth Church, 1859. This congregation was very active in
promoting the underground railroad, and many members are
listed as Vigilance Committee members or fund-raisers. NR. 232 East Onondaga.
2. Archeological Sites
Jerry Rescue building-where William “Jerry” Henry was imprisoned before his rescue on October 1, 1851. West of Clinton Square.
3. Related Sites
a. Hamilton White House— Illustrates the increasing involvement of European Americans in anti-slavery activities, as U.S. government action threatened to allow the extension of slavery into the territories. suggests the wealth that some European . NR. 307 South Townsend.
b. Weighlock building—helps identify the importance of the Erie
Canal to the development of Syracuse and to the growth of an African American community here, many of whom worked on the canal. Also highlights the story of the Harris family, who were among the first African American freedom seekers to come to Syracuse after passage of the Fugitive Slave Law on September 18, 1850. NR. Montgomery Street and Erie Blvd. East.
B. Syracuse outside downtown
1. Standing Sites
a. Site of William R. and Mary L. Edwards House—119 Ashworth Place. Purchased from Jermain Loguen as an empty lot, this site suggests the biracial character of much of this pre-Civil War neighborhood. 1113 Ashworth Place (originally 119 Gazelle Street).
b. Robinson houses—23 and 25 Catherine Street. Highlight the
importance of African American women and the creation of a relatively stable, home-owning African American community in Syracuse before the Civil War, many of whom were born in New York State before the end of slavery in 1827. Mary Robinson lived next door to Francis Lando, who by the 1890s was the last man living in Syracuse who had once been enslaved. 204 and 206 Catherine Street.
c. Allen/Schneider house—35 Catawba. Ordinary working class
African American household. Assessments and mortgages should be checked to see who owned this house. 35 Catawba Street.
d. Wandell house—54 Ash Street. Illustrates one of many stable
African American families, employed in service occupations (Richard Wandell usually as a cartman). The Wandells who lived next door to Isaac Wales, Jr., son of the first enslaved man in Syracuse. Richard Wandell may have been married to a freedom seeker. Mortgages and assessments need to be checked. 412 Ash Street.
e. Barnes house (Corinthian Club)—James Street. Illustrates the
involvement of European Americans in the Vigilance Committee supporting the underground railroad. 930 James Street.
f. Harriet May Mills house. Oral tradition suggests that this house
was once a safe house on the underground railroad. Contemporary newspapers note that C.D.B. Mills gave antislavery speeches. Helps interpret the relationship between abolitionist and the early woman’s rights movement. NR. 1072 West Genesee Street.
g. Sabine house—9 Academy Green, Onondaga Valley. William H. Sabine owned at least one person in slavery. In 1843, his son, William, lived in the house and invited antislavery lecturer William Chaplin to give a speech in the front yard (perhaps on Academy Green). 9 Academy Green.
h. Rose Hill Cemetery. Many African Americans were buried here, listed in the Potter’s Field records. Lodi Street between Douglas, Highland, and Willow Streets.
i. Oakwood Cemetery. Many African Americans were buried here, including members of the Loguen, Highgate, and Robinson families. Many European American abolitionists were also buried here. NR
2. Potential archeological sites
a. Parts of several blocks (including 211, 212, 222, 223, 232, 234, and 238). These were the sites of homes of families of many freedom seekers, including Thomas and Jane Leonard, Martha Sidney, and Jacob and Elizabeth Crown.
b. Block 224 at the corner of Pine and Genesee, was the location of Rev. Jermain and Caroline Loguen’s home. Beginning in the mid-1850s, their home became the primary safe house for fugitives who reached Syracuse.
c. Block 238, once Chestnut Street, now South Crouse Avenue, the location of the AME Zion Church, probably from the 1850s until 1911.
d. Salina Block 280, site of the home of Enoch Reed, a former whaler, the only person indicted in the Jerry Rescue who was actually convicted. He died before he could serve his sentence.
e. Salina Block 9, site of Prince Jackson’s home at 135 Lock Street. Prince Jackson was born in central New York, perhaps into slavery himself. Immediately after the end of slavery in 1827 in New York State, he married and became the earliest known African American property owner in the county. He was a veterinarian. He worked with J. C. Woodruff’s stage line and remained at this same spot until his death in 1867.
3. Related Sites
a. Moses Burnet House (now the Century Club). Burnet was President of a meeting to protest the Jerry Rescue. 480 James Street.
b. Houses on North State Street that date from the 1820s through the 1850s. Several of these exist and help us understand the neighborhood context in which Prince Jackson and other African Americans worked along the canal.
c. AME Zion Church, 1910-11. Although this does not date to the historic period, it does offer an opportunity to discuss the importance of the AME Zion Church in Syracuse. 711 Fayette Street, just east of Almond.
d. Sarah Loguen Fraser House. 844? Westcott Street. Jermain and Caroline Loguen’s daughter, Sarah, became the first African American woman to graduate from Syracuse University. As a medical doctor, she lived and worked with her husband in Haiti before returning to Syracuse in the 1890s to buy a home on Westcott Street.
4. Possible sites, not yet documented
1. Henry and Mary Allen house—279 Lock Street. Henry was a barber and both were long-term African American residents of what was originally Salina. The house may or may not be still standing.
2. House on Genesee St., SW corner of East Genesee and Scott. Ira Cobb house?
3. Homes for William Thompson, William Gray (property owners) and Peter Hornbeck (property owner) would be very important to find, if possible. They were all African Americans involved in the Jerry Rescue.
4. Gorton and Sarah Nottingham house, corner of Nottingham Road and Stone House Road. Abraham Nottingham was involved in Harriet Powell’s escape. One of Peter Hornbeck’s children was named Gorton Hornbeck.
C. Onondaga County
1. Standing Sites
Wilcox House—Octagon House in Camillus. Isaiah Wilcox signed an 1852 call for an anti-slavery meeting. More research in newspapers would probably reveal more about this involvement. NR. Genesee Street.
Thomas Homes, South Street, Village of Elbridge. Thomas and Jane Thomas were African Americans who listed their
birthplaces as New York State in 1850 and in Dutchess Co. and Hudson in 1855. In 1855, they had a young woman in their home who listed her birthplace as Africa. South Street.
Matilda Joslyn Gage and Henry Gage house—Both
Gages were abolitionists. Three of their four children recall stories about using their house as an underground railroad stop, although we do not know whether these stories relate to this house or to the one they owned before this one. This house illustrates the close connection between abolitionism and women’s rights.210 East Genesee Street (corner of Walnut). Part of Limestone Hill Historic District.
L.P. Noble house—Noble published The National Era, a Washington-based antislavery newspaper which contained the first published version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He was also present at the meeting to plan the rescue of William “Jerry” Henry. East Genesee Street (across from Gage House). Part of Limestone Hill Historic District.
Talbot house-Magdalena and Absalom Talbot, African Americans born in New Jersey, operated a farm here until Absalom’s mysterious disappearance in the late 1870s. They were part of a group of African American families who settled in the Town of Onondaga, including the Days, Bakemans, and DeGroats. Magdalene was probably the daughter of Henry Bakeman, a Revolutionary War veteran. Abbey Road.
Birdseye House-Pompey Hill. Ellen Birdseye Wheaton grew up in this house. She married Charles Wheaton, one of her neighbors. They moved to Syracuse, where Charles operated a hardware store and became extremely active in the abolitionist movement and a ring leader in the effort to rescue Jerry Henry. The couple had twelve children. Ellen kept a diary, which was later printed, until her death in 1858. Pompey Center.
Gold House. Built c. 1810. This family owned one person in slavery, Prince, who became a member of the Episcopal Church. Henneberry Road.
Fuller house—James Canning
Fuller and Lydia Fuller were British-born Quakers who were very active abolitionists. We have two well-documented instances of how they used their home as a safe house. 98 West Genesee Street. Nominated to the NR.
Friends’ Meeting House. West Lake Road. The Fullers and other abolitionists were active members of this meeting.
David and Lucy Spaulding. Home of people who hosted visit from Frederick Douglass in 1849 and who also signed the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments. 2251 Eibert Road.
Baptist Church. Frederick Douglass spoke here in 1849. He also spoke in the Methodist meeting house, but perhaps not in the one currently standing. Route 41, Borodino.
2. Potential Archealogical Sites
a. Hezekiah Joslyn home site, Cicero. Joslyn was a very active
abolitionist and the father of Matilda Joslyn Gage.
b. Benjamin Bakeman house site, South Onondaga. One of the sons of
Henry Bakeman, Revolutionary War veteran. Brother to many members of the Day, Bakeman, and Talbot families.
c. Rev. James Beulah houses. Two house sites in Jordan, New York. The Beulah family are well-documented as freedom seekers. These homes (one of them brick) were torn down only two years ago.
3. Related Sites
Community Place. Site of an 1843-46
Fourierist community, committed to communistic ideas,
founded by Garrisonian abolitionist John Collins. Home of
George and Margaret Prior, abolitionists, women’s advocates, and Quakers. Sheldon Road. 725 Sheldon Road. NR
4.. Possible Sites
a. Daniel Day house site. Town of Onondaga. One of the African
American families who settled in Onondaga. There is one standing house and one possible archeological site. Which belonged to the African American Daniel Day and which to the European American one?
b. Elisha C. Noble house. According to Noble’s obituary, this house was commonly used as a safe house before the Civil War.
c. Charles Wheaton boyhood home, Pompey Hill.
d. Medallton and Rachel Cooley home, Pompey Hill. Medallton (also listed in the census as Madison) listed his birthplace as Virginia. Rachel listed hers as South Carolina. Probably no longer standing.
e. William Vansoick home, Skaneateles. This African American family purchased the old “office lot” in 1850.
f. Harry Grimes home, Skaneateles. Possible home of a fugitive, perhaps with Obadiah Thorne.
g. Ludovicus and Elizabeth Weld house or house site. This was the boyhood home of Theodore Weld, one of the country’s most important abolitionist organizers in the 1830s. He married Angelina Grimke in 1838.
h. Sylvia Gunn/Lydia Green/Porter Tremain home, Fayetteville. Sylvia Gunn was born into slavery in Columbia County, NY, and came to Fayetteville with a daughter of one of the owners in1839, where she stayed until her death in 1872. She represents the many African Americans who earned their living as domestics in European American families.
i. Baynard Family home—Hill Street, Jordan. Her father was enslaved in eastern NYS. They came to Jordan in 1866 and lived until they died in the 1890s.
j. Baptist Church, Skaneateles. Probable site of many abolitionist lectures, including one by Frederick Douglass in 1854.