How the Freedom Seekers got to Sodus Point

 

Now that evidence is piling up for the existence of the Sodus Point slave tunnel, have you ever wondered how the fugitive slaves got to Sodus Point from the south? The following link offers a fictional account based on historical facts:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBio1ePZ0vQ

 

The first freedom seeker in Rochester that was captured by her master and subsequently freed again by abolitionist friends ended up in Sodus Point. This was in 1832, many years before Captain Garlock and his schooner “Free Trader” which was circa 1855. Here is that story:

 

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD IN ROCHESTER

By Mrs. Amy Post

Written for William F. Peck’s 1884 Semi-Centennial History of Rochester

(appears as Chapter  XLIII, pages 458-462.) Typescript in Local History Division. 

As we recall the incidents connected with the Underground railroad in Rochester, we cannot but think that history furnishes nothing more replete with deeds of heroic daring than the bold, constant and efficient help rendered to these fleeing fugitives by the colored men and women of this city.  They were always ready to fight for a fugitive slave, and, if they failed to rescue one here, they would form a company of stalwart men and follow the party, spy out where they were stopping for the night, and, generally finding the watchman asleep, they only failed once to return in triumph with their rescued brother or sister.  This failure–as related by Rev. Thomas James of this city, now eighty years of age–was in connection with the very first rendition of a fugitive slave from Rochester, which took place in 1823.  The victim was a woman who had escaped from her owner at Niagara Falls and had been living in this city for some time with her husband, who was a barber here.  The judge before whom the hearing was had, decided that she should be returned to her master. The colored people to the number of fifteen or twenty, gathered at the entrance of the Court House, and, as she was brought out by the sheriff and his assistants, they succeeded in overpowering the officers, got possession of her and carried her some distance before they were overtaken.  In the meantime the officers had received reinforcements and succeeded in getting her into their clutches again.  They then threw her into a wagon, where the officers and a few  other ruffians mounted guard and drove off toward Buffalo.  This was prior to the time of telegraphs and railroads.  The colored men took a conveyance and followed on as fast as possible.  After getting a number of miles they found they were on the wrong track, and, as the officers and their victim had so much the start of them, they were obliged to give up the chase.  The poor woman was carried to Buffalo, put on board a steamboat bound for Cleveland, to be taken from there to Wheeling, West Virginia, where her owner lived.  The thought of being forever separated from her husband and from her baby, nine months old, and the dread of the tortures and terrible punishments she would be subjected to, was too much for her, and she ended the tragedy by cutting her throat, preferring to lie down to rest in death.

The second case of seizure, which occurred in 1832, terminated more fortunately for the slave.  A woman who was almost white was stopping at the Clinton House with her master and mistress, who were here with their family, intending to spend the summer.  In her first attempt to escape she was caught by her master just as she was leaving the hotel.  Her owner, thinking his property not very safe here, packed up immediately and that afternoon started for the East.  As they were obliged to travel by stage they stopped at Palmyra for the night, where the colored men who had followed at a safe distance found them about midnight.  As they attempted to enter the hotel they were fired upon, but they were in such numbers and so well armed, that the occupants fled to the back part of the house, leaving the slave chained to a bed-post in an upper room, where her rescuers found her.  It was but the work of a moment to cut the chain with an ax, and she was immediately hurried to Sodus Point.