The Underground Railroad in Sodus Point was made possible by a number of abolitionist that worked together to harbor and transport the “freedom seekers”. In the first part, we talked about Captain George Garlock and how he transported fugitive slaves in his schooner “Free Trader”. In this section we will tell the story of several others that were active in the Underground Railroad in Sodus Point and the surrounding area.
One of the most ardent abolitionist in Sodus Point in the 1830s thru the 185os was Jacob Buys. Please click the link below to read his story:
Dr. William Cooke was a very active abolitionist who owned property and several houses on Lake Road where you enter Sprong Bluff. The main house that is visible from the road was used as a safe house and is the only local safe house that has a historical written reference for harboring fugitive slaves. This written reference also gives the only name (Sam Williams) of a fugitive slave that came to Sodus Point. Please click the link below to read his story:
Another abolitionist was Josiah Rice. We get his story from History, Reminiscences, Anecdotes and Legends by Walter Henry Green 1947
Josiah Rice, a farmer, who lived on his farm a mile west of Sodus Village also was a member of that group (abolitionists). Sixty years later Judson Rice owned and occupied that farm. About 1919 the dwelling burned to the ground and Judd was greatly puzzled by a cistern-like place in the ground over which the woodhouse had stood. It was constructed like a cistern but there was no way for the water to enter and it was perfectly dry. Judd couldn’t imagine what it had been used for, and he mentioned it to an oldtime neighbor who said: Josiah Rice was one of the men who railroaded the Negro slaves out of the country before the Civil War, and that cistern, was one of the places where they were hidden until a vessel would be leaving Sodus Point or Pultneyville by which they could be sent to Canada. Another place where escaping slaves were hidden was the woods on the bluff at the Sodus Fruit Farm on account of which it now is known as Freedom Hill. Slaves were also concealed in the house of Samuel S. Cuyler of Pultneyville and of Garrett Smith of Sodus Point. (editor’s note: Garrett Smith never lived in Sodus Point but did own property here. It was a practice of his to buy property and then use it as part of the Underground Railroad).
In his old age Josiah Rice was a dear old gentleman known and beloved by every one in Sodus as Grandpa Rice.