Port Ewen in Ulster County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Daughter of Esopus
"She became in her own time and ours an inspiration to Blacks, to women, and to the poor and the religious. She was a remarkably honorable figure for us to focus on when we look at the past and seek heroes or heroines. She was a woman who struggled against terrible odds and poverty all of her life."
Carleton Mabee, Pulitzer Prize winning author, commenting on the naming of NASA's first Mars Rover "Sojourner".
Sojourner Truth was born around 1797 of enslaved parents in Rifton, near the Wallkill River, and given the name ISABELLA. She was the youngest child of James and Betsey, owned by wealthy landowner, Revolutionary War veteran, Col. Johannes Hardenburgh. Most of her 11 siblings had been sold before she had a chance to know them. From her mother, she learned to be honest, obedient, and to believe in God. When Col. Hardenburgh died in 1799, his slaves were inherited by his son, Charles.
At age 10, Isabella was sold to a storekeeper near Kingston. Since she knew only Dutch, she did not understand his orders given in English. The beatings she received as a result left scars
At age 11, she was sold to fisherman Martinus Schryver, who owned a small tavern and a large farm in what is now Port Ewen. She was expected to carry fish, hoe corn, gather roots and herbs for beer and go to the Strand on the Rondout Creek for supplies of molasses and liquor. Her owner and his wife were honest, kind, and well disposed people.
At age 13, she was sold to John Dumont, on whose farm in West Park she lived and worked for the next 16 years, was wed to a fellow slave and bore five children . Although her life was one of hardship and toil, she remained faithful to her mother's teachings of honesty and obedience.
New York State had passed a law in 1799, freeing every slave who was 28 or older in 1827. Isabella and her master agreed that she could be freed in 1826; however, Dumont reneged on his promise. Isabella longed ardently for freedom and early on an October morning she took her 3 month old daughter and walked away from the Dumont farm. Crossing the Esopus hills, she took refuge with old friends Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen in St. Remy. Not long after, she learned that Dumont had allowed her 5 year old son to be taken illegally into slavery in Alabama. As a free woman, she sued in Ulster County Court at Kingston in 1828 and was successful in securing his return.
1808 Isabella moved
After a long life of travel, she joined her family in Battle Creek, Michigan and died there on Nov.26, 1883. In 1981, she was named to the Women's' National Hall of Fame. In 2009, she was the first Black woman to be honored with a statue in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Background Painting By Joseph Tubby, Showing The Town Of Esopus In The 19th Century, Much As It Would Have Appeared To Isabella. Used Courtesy Of Sanford Levy.
Photo 1: Birthplace Of Isabella, Rifton. The home of Col. Johannes Hardenburgh near the Wallkill River.
Photo 2: 1808 Inventory Of The Estate Of Charles Hardenburgh. This is the first official record of Isabella, whose value is listed as $100, Her mother, Bett, and brother Peet, are also listed.
Photo 3: Schryver's Tavern, Port Ewen. Isabella worked here until 1810 for the family of Martinus Schryver. From the collection of Vivian Yess Wadlin.
Photo 4: Van Wagenen Home, St. Remy. Isabella and her daughter were given refuge here when she walked to freedom in 1826.
Photo 5: Ulster County Court House, Kingston. In 1828, Isabella sued and won the freedom of her young son from slavery in Alabama.
Photo 6: Photograph And Advertisement. Sojourner Truth sold her photograph and her Narrative to support her travels.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Women.
Location. 41° 54.41′ N, 73° 58.604′ W. Marker is in Port Ewen, New York, in Ulster County. Marker is at the intersection of Broadway (U.S. 9W) and Salem Street, on the right when traveling south on Broadway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Port Ewen NY 12466, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Sojourner Truth (approx. half a mile away); The Rondout Creek Suspension Bridge (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Delaware and Hudson Canal (approx. 0.8 miles away); Island Dock (approx. 0.8 miles away); Louis Caterino (approx. 0.8 miles away); 20th New York State Militia (approx. 0.8 miles away); The West Strand (approx. 0.8 miles away); Sampson Opera House (approx. 0.8 miles away).
Also see . . . National Women's History Museum. (Submitted on October 28, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 29, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 28, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. This page has been viewed 34 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 28, 2020, by Steve Stoessel of Niskayuna, New York. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.