Newfane in Niagara County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
An Underground Railroad Safe House
—Cultural Heritage - Routes to freedom passed through many Seaway Trail communities —
Not Underground, Not a Railroad
Freedom seekers used whatever means available to make their journey. Some stowed away on canal boats and lake steamers. Some were transported hidden in wagons. Usually, however, they simply traveled on foot, under the cover of darkness, carrying few possessions, following creek beds to avoid detection, and following leads to safe houses like the McClews' to rest and eat.
Charles and Anna Maria McClew were part of a secret network of people who helped freedom seekers make their way through the Niagara Frontier to Canada. Abolitionists throughout the Niagara region not only assisted people fleeing from slavery but also fought for abolition of slavery through political channels.
The McClews moved to this property in 1850 and built this house and barns. They used native wood, made the bricks on site, and used stones cut from the Erie Canal excavation to cap the foundation wall.
There is a concealed room beneath the McClews' barn where people escaping slavery were able to rest and recuperate. The entrance to the room can still be seen today.
Boat and Bridge Crossings
Rowboats were used to secretly ferry people across the Niagara River to Canada and freedom.
After the first Suspension bridge
Creekbeds offered pathways that were easy to follow even at nighttime and were often edged with concealing vegetation.
People who were escaping from slavery were sometimes hidden in wagons filled with produce that was being taken to market in Lockport or Niagara Falls.
Underground Railroad in New York
People who were escaping from slavery followed several routes from the south to the north, and from the interior of the state to its border with Canada.
1865 Slavery abolished by the 13th Amendment.
1863 Emancipation Proclamation decrees that all slaves in Rebel territory are free.
1861-65 United States Civil War
1860 Abraham Lincoln Elected.
1850 Compromise of 1850, which encompasses the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, passes U.S. Congress, allowing bounty hunters and Federal Marshals to seize fugitive slaves within states where slavery has been legally abolished. Freed men and women were in danger of being recaptured.
1837 Slavery is abolished by a Law of Complete Emancipation in New York State.
1820 Missouri Compromise forbids
1808 U.S. bans slave trade. 1793 Fugitive Slave Act outlaws efforts to impede the capture of runaways.
Seaway Trail, Inc. Corner Ray & West Main St., Sacketts Harbor, NY 13685. www.seawaytrail.com This project was funded in part by the federal Highway Administration and administered by the New York State Scenic byways Program of the New York State Department of Transportation and Seaway Trail, Inc.
Erected by Seaway Trail, Inc.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway marker series.
Location. 43° 17.952′ N, 78° 43.535′ W. Marker is in Newfane, New York, in Niagara County. Marker can be reached from McClew Road 0.6 miles north of Ide Road. Touch for map. This property and business is now Murphy Orchards. The marker is between the house and the barn, which is behind the house. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2402 McClew Road, Burt NY 14028, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Binational Heritage Peace Garden Trail (a few steps from this marker); Home of James Van Horn (approx. one mile away); First Baptist Church Roller Mill (approx. 1.6 miles away); One Country and One Flag (approx. 2.7 miles away); Olcott Beach (approx. 2.8 miles away); Kiddie Whistle Pig Ferris Wheel (approx. 2.8 miles away); Tom Kelly Rustic Theatre (approx. 2.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Newfane.
Also see . . . Murphy Orchards. Current business on the property. (Submitted on November 6, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 6, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 227 times since then. Last updated on November 11, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on November 6, 2014, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.