Although Saratoga County is not a "North Country" County, it was historically linked to the North Country by the Champlain Line of the Underground Railroad.
The Old Stone Church in Milton
was the site of Anti-Slavery Meetings
The old Morey residence in Saratoga County just north of Ballston, near Route 29 and the North Milton Cemetery, is thought to have been an Underground Railroad stop. Mr. Morey is said to have transported slaves at dusk in wagons covered with hay. The home of the Quaker abolitionist Mason Anthony was a short distance away in Greenfield. In 1838, Anthony drove a young male runaway to fellow Quaker Rowland T. Robinson's home in Ferrisburgh, Vermont.
The Wayside Inn on Wilton Road is also believed to have been a stop.
The Wayside Inn
In 1849, Lydia Frances Sherman of nearby Hadley shared this story in a memoir:
At one time we kept a fugitive about the house several days before we dared pass him along, as a reward for his capture was posted in every village and at every post office, and plenty of pro-slavery men were eager for the reward. Fortunately, it happened that just at that time my married sister came home on a visit, bringing with her a young infant. They dressed the slave in woman's clothes, with a heavy veil, put in his arms a large doll, well wrapped up to look like a baby, and my mother drove with him to Grandfather Wilcox's...
On their way they had to pass the village of Luzerne, and the ten minutes spent in transit caused...much anxiety, for fear that some friend might stop to speak to them...The most anxious time was when they had to go over the Sacandaga River and North River, which were close together and were crossed by covered bridges, where they must drive slowly...
The most widely known Saratoga County slavery story was not about a freedom seeker being helped by abolitionists, but the narrative of a free man who was kidnapped in Saratoga Springs. Solomon Northup was born free in Minerva, Essex County, NY, in 1808. He worked as a cab driver and violinist in Saratoga Springs. While looking for work during the off-season in 1841, he was abducted and sold into slavery. Twelve years later in Louisiana, an anti-slavery Canadian carpenter working for Solomon's ‘master' was persuaded by Solomon that he had been born a free man. Citizens of Saratoga and the surrounding area were instrumental in arranging for Solomon's release and return home. A historical marker at the intersection of Congress and Broadway Streets in Saratoga Springs marks the spot where Northup was kidnapped. An exhibit panel inside the nearby Visitor Center commemorates his life. Northup's moving narrative Twelve Years A Slave, inspired Gordon Parks' film, Half Slave, Half Free.
Arrival home, and the first
meeting with his wife and children
Solomon Northup described the dramatic scene when he was reunited with his wife, Anne, and their children in Glens Falls in 1853:
As I entered their comfortable cottage, Margaret was the first that met me. She did not recognize me. When I left her, she was but seven years old, a little prattling girl, playing with her toys. Now she was grown to womanhood--was married, with a bright-eyed boy standing by her side. Not forgetful of his enslaved, unfortunate grandfather, she had named the child Solomon Northup Staunton. When told who I was, she was overcome with emotion, and unable to speak. Presently Elizabeth entered the room, and Anne came running from the hotel, having been informed of my arrival. They embraced me, and with tears flowing down their cheeks, hung upon my neck. But I draw a veil over a scene, which can better be imagined than described.
An annual "Solomon Northup Day: A Celebration of Freedom" founded by Renee Moore is held in Saratoga Springs on the third Saturday in July. Solomon Northup Day was recognized by the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program in 2007.
For information on Solomon Northup Day, contact Founder Renee Moore (518-596-4329, firstname.lastname@example.org), or email the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association at email@example.com. This event is held at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
For more on the history of the UGRR in Saratoga County, contact Kristina Saddlemire Reese at (518) 884-4771, or email the Historian, Village of Schuylerville.
Kristina Saddlemire, "Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Schuylerville."
Arrival home, and the first meeting with his wife and children image: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
Old Stone Church, Morey House and Wayside Inn photos by Laura Sells Doyle.
Solomon Northup, Twelve Years a Slave, eds. Sue Eakin and Joseph Longsdon (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968) reissue of 1853 edition.
Tom Calarco, The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region (McFarland & Company, Inc.: Jefferson, North Carolina, and London, 2004).