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The most recent honor for Sojourner is the January 31, 2007 proposed induction
into the National Abolition Hall of Fame.
PETERBORO, NY, NATIONAL ABOLITION HALL OF FAME
National Abolition Hall of Fame
Honoring those doing the unfinished work of abolition
Central New York, and Peterboro specifically, was a hotbed of activity for abolitionism and reform. Peterboro was the
Grand Central Station of the Underground Railroad. As such, Peterboro became a model of integration a century before other
places began making an effort at ending racial segregation. When the first meeting of the New York State Anti-slavery Society
was driven out of Utica by rioters, the meeting was moved to Peterboro and took place on October 22nd, 1835 in the Peterboro
Presbyterian Church. The Peterboro community welcomed the meeting. Many residents received attendees into their homes,
and provided them with a place to sleep. Peterboro was the site where the Liberty Party was created. The Liberty Party was
a precursor to the current Republican Party, and the only political party devoted to the abolition of slavery. Thanks largely
to Gerrit Smith's Estate, Peterboro accommodated nearly all of the famous abolitionists in the 1800's. Smith, who lived in
Peterboro for the duration of his years, dedicated his life and personal fortune to the cause. He also helped fund John Brown's
raid at Harpers Ferry. Peterboro welcomed an honor roll of abolitionists of national prominence, making it an ideal place
to house the National Abolition Hall of Fame.
ONE OF THE VISITORS OF THE GERRIT SMITH HOME WAS SOJOURNER TRUTH, WHO ALSO SPOKE IN THE PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH, WHICH IS NOW THE NATIONAL ABOLITION HALL OF FAME. Here are two letters from the Smiths to Sojourner following two
of these visits.
"PETERBOROUGH, N. Y., DEC. 11, 1868.
"MY DEAR SOJOURNER TRUTH:--
"I cannot let you go without telling you on paper how highly we have prized your visit to us. We have enjoyed your
wit and powers of description, we have been instructed by your wisdom, and we have welcomed your religion. I trust that this
is not your last visit to Peterborough, and that the good
Lord and Father will spare you to come again to us. Wherever you shall go, there will, I trust, be good friends to receive
you, to bless you, and to be blessed by you. I know that wherever you go you will be useful, for the head and heart that you
carry with you are continually doing good.
"With much love to you from my dear wife and myself,
Narrative of Sojourner Truth; a Bondswoman of Olden Time ... by Sojourner Truth
"PETERROROUGH, MAY 4, 1869.
"MY DEAR SOJOURNER:--
"I was very glad to receive a letter from you, but sorry to learn that
you are suffering from indisposition. I hope you will soon be well enough to go to Brooklyn and call here on your way. We
very often talk of the pleasant visit we had from you, and when I am alone I frequently recall the words you spoke to us and
feel refreshed and strengthened by them. I send you ten dollars, for food and fire as far as it will go. Wish it were more,
but it must suffice now.
"God bless you always, and keep you in his own peace. In much love,
"ANN C. SMITH."
Remembering Peterboro History
Peterboro Hometown Day a hit with locals
By LEEANNE ROOT , Dispatch Staff Writer
PETERBORO - Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day for the Peterboro Hometown Day.
sponsored by the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department, boasted many activities for children and adults. Students from Crystal
K School of Dance and a group of belly dancers performed. There was also a bike rodeo for children.First Assistant Chief Mike
West of the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department, who estimated that 300 to 500 people attended the event, said most of the
proceeds generated will go to the fire department."We're currently trying to
get grants and raise money to build a new building," West said. The current building, he said, just isn't
big enough. "The trucks are parked only an inch apart," he said.The fire department hosted a chicken barbecue and put on a
jaws of life demonstration. "We want to educate people so they aren't unfamiliar with it if they ever see them in a real-life
setting." Kathy Parmeter organized the Hometown Day's antique car show, now in its fifth year. Cars displayed included a 1913
Cadillac owned by Dereck Wilson of Earlville, a 1921 Ford Model-T one-ton truck owned by Barry Frank of Peterboro and
a 1923 Ford TT bus owned by Clifford Howard of Morrisville. Harmon Perry, of Sheds, N.Y., brought his 1947
Studebaker truck.Madison County Dairy Princess Natalie Taylor was on hand to teach children the benefits of getting "three
a day" of milk, cheese and yogurt. Taylor developed a "Wheel of Dairy" for her presentations. Children spin the wheel and
are asked a question about dairy products. They then win either a coloring book, eraser or pencil.Taylor travels around Madison
County teaching the benefits of dairy to students at various area schools."I promote the consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt,"
she said.Taylor was joined at the event by several Dairy Ambassadors and the Dairy Duke, Tony Casarotti, 12, of Eaton. Casarotti
said his job is to "support the Dairy Princess in educating people about dairy products and their benefits." Senior Ambassador
Sarah Nourse handed out cheese samples provided by McCadams.Eric Howard, who with his wife, Anna, ran the ice cream wagon,
said the event is great because the community works together to help the community. He also said the event has grown over
the years, adding more crafters and activities for the kids.Rita Yates and her husband Greg, who live in Stockbridge, set
up a booth to raise funds and awareness about the Smithfield Veterans Memorial Fund, which her father, James A. Zophy, started
two years ago.The memorial will be made up of bricks engraved with the names of veterans."We are so proud of what my father
started," Yates said.Alicia Lenhart, of West Eaton, who started a business called Waxy Paws in December, sold scented novelty
bears that she and her daughter, Stephanie, made. Lenhart's granddaughters, Leanna Race, 9, and Tuesdae Race, 10, who enjoyed
watching the belly dancers perform, helped Lenhart sell the bears.The Smithfield Community Association's Steve Joeckel was
at Hometown Day to raise money to help preserve historic buildings in town, including the Gerrit Smith estate. Joeckel called
Smith the "most famous person that nobody has ever heard of." He said that Smith was one of the wealthiest men in New York
state and is usually noted for his work as an abolitionist.Smith bought the building, home of the Smithfield Community Center
since 1974, in the 1800s and opened it as an academy in 1871. It's listed on the state and national registers of historic
places and in 2004 was chosen as one of the 24 sites on the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail. Smithfield
town historian Donna Burdick, who was at the community museum during the event, said that the Reverend Robert Rowe started
Home Town Day in the 1970s."Rowe wanted Peterboro to start remembering its history, Burdick said.The event has evolved over
the years to become what it is today.
ŠThe Oneida Daily Dispatch 2006
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