Former Wayne County historian Marjory Allen Perez recently released her new book “Last Stop, Freedom!: The Underground Railroad Experience in Wayne County, New York.”
“So often the story of the Underground Railroad is focused on the persons who aided the fugitive slaves,” Perez said. “I decided to put the spotlight on the individuals who were the ‘passengers’ of the Underground Railroad and who had either settled in Wayne County or passed through the county on their way to Canada.”
The book includes biographical sketches of men and women who set their hopes on freedom and boarded the Underground Railroad in 1800-65.
Thomas and Agnes Watkins were brought as slaves from Virginia to Sodus Bay by Capt. William Helm around 1800. In 1810 they fled from slavery, taking with them their infant son Edward. Lloyd and Susan Chase and their six children arrived in Macedon about 1844, but within a few years felt compelled to continue their journey to freedom, moving to Canada. In 1863, William Scott, then known as William Bacome, took advantage of the disruptions of the Civil War in Tennessee to begin his odyssey to freedom, traveling first to Massachusetts and eventually to Huron, where he set down deep routes and raised his family.
Perez said the idea to turn her research into a book stemmed from a project spearheaded by Judith Wellman, professor emeritus at SUNY Oswego, that surveyed the Underground Railroad, abolitionism and African American life in Wayne County. Completed in 2009, the report revealed that many county residents played a critical role in both the Underground Railroad and in reform movements of the day.
The book, which retails at $17.95, will be available at local historical society gift shops. Discounts are available to libraries, schools, museum and retail shops.
For information, call 315-946-4562 or email marjory.perez1944@gmail.com.