Underground Railroad

- Click to Download | The Underground Railroad in Oswego County * A Driving Tour (PDF)
- Introduction to the Underground Railroad in Oswego County
- Underground Railroad Sites in Oswego County -  News Release Series
- National Register of Historic Places – Oswego County

The Underground Railroad in Oswego County
“A History of Heroism”

erie canalway 2013Before the Civil War, thousands of African American men, women, and children fled slavery, looking for freedom in the northern states or in Canada. Many of them came through Oswego County.

Some of them headed for the City of Oswego, where ships could carry them across the lake to Kingston. Others went around the eastern end of the lake to cross the border at the St. Lawrence River. Still others decided to remain in Oswego County, where they settled in Oswego, Volney, and elsewhere.

The Underground Railroad was underground only in the sense that it was often (although not always) secret. Sheltered primarily by people of modest means, freedom seekers would hide in attics, kitchens, barns, or even woods. While men would transport fugitives from one place to another, women provided food and often clothing. Both African Americans and whites maintained way stations for freedom seekers. In the city, African American barbers and sailors were especially active. Whites were often farmers, lawyers, business people, or homemakers.

Although often vilified by proslavery people, freedom trail supporters were sustained by a network of abolitionists who worked through churches, political parties, and sympathetic families. Some areas, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton and the villages of Gilbert Mills, Mexico, and Port Ontario, were more active than others.

Whether African American or white, people who worked with the freedom trail were motivated by a commitment to freedom and to equality. They believed in the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal,” and they followed the biblical commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

National Register of Historic Places Includes 11 Underground Railroad Sites in Oswego County

A News Release Series by M. Lisa Rodak,
former Public Information Officer for the Oswego County Office of Promotion & Tourism

Bristol Hill Church
Bristol Hill, NYS Rte. 3
Fulton, NY  13069
News Release: May 8, 2002

Starr Clark Tin Shop
3250 Main Street
Mexico, NY 13114
News Release: May 15, 2002

Asa Wing House
3392 Route 69
Mexico, NY 13114
News Release: May 22, 2002

John B. Edwards House
144 East 3rd Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: May 29, 2002

Edwin W. Clarke House
80 East Mohawk Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: June 5, 2002

John McKenzie House
96 West Eighth Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: June 12, 2002

Daniel Pease House
261 Cemetery Road
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: June 19, 2002

Nathan Green House
98 West Eighth Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: June 26, 2002

Hamilton Littlefield House
44 East Oneida Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: July 3, 2002

Orson Ames House
3339 Main Street
Mexico, NY 13114
News Release: July 10, 2002

Buckhout-Jones Building
5-13 West Bridge Street
Oswego, NY 13126
News Release: July 17, 2002