Safe Houses in Farmington

During the slavery era in Connecticut Farmington was a hotspot for hiding slaves from the government , Farmington had a key part in the underground railroad. They had hidden the slaves and transport them to Springfield also it was an ideal locations. Farmington was an important stop along the Underground Railroad. In fact, the town came to be called the Grand Central Station of the railroad because of its abolitionist activities. Local abolitionists including Horace Cowles, Elijah Lewis, John Treadwell Norton, Samuel and Catherine Deming, and Austin Williams helped shelter fugitive slaves and transport them through town to freedom. They had farmlands with many barns used to smuggle the escaped slaves to Canada and other spots were they could be.

During this period slavery was legal in the thirteen colonies before the Revolution, but antislavery sentiment grew after the war. The first article published in America that called for the abolition of the slave trade was written by Thomas Paine in 1775, and the first American abolition society was formed by Quakers in Philadelphia in 1775. The society ceased to meet during the war and the British occupation of Philadelphia and was reformed in 1784. Many more abolitionist societies were formed after the war, including A Society for the Abolition of Slavery in Hartford in 1791. Noah Webster of Hartford was a leading member, along with several Farmington residents. Farmington was a very big hot spot for the railroad which many people do not know which is quite interesting.

John Hooker, a leading abolitionist, attorney and Supreme Court judge who was born at 50 High Street in Farmington, wrote about a “Henry” who may be Henry Davis:

“After he had been in Farmington for several months a fugitive slave from his old home … came along, and told him how, after his (Henry’s) escape the year before, his master had charged his old mother with aiding him to escape, and had given her a terrible flogging on her bare body … he determined to go back …. He went back, saw and comforted his old mother, and got up a company of eight slaves, who started north under his guidance. They had all sorts of perils and escapes on the way ….”1


In the source John Hookers house is on the cite and it’s a land mark in Farmington that people can visit and learn about it. Another key player was Samuel Deming, a wealthy farmer, merchant, and legislator who lived at 66 Main Street,formerly the home of Thomas Hart Hooker, was also a founding member of the local Anti-Slavery Society and a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad. Deming’s wife, Catherine,was one of many Farmington women who helped raised money and distribute petitions for the abolitionist cause. His is also out for show in the Farmington community for tourist and other people to tour through to learn about his life.

This source shows the development of how Farmington was used during the underground rail road.


This entry was posted in HOT Logs Dec. 2013, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Safe Houses in Farmington

  1. ahglennon says:

    A vey nice and informative article! However if there were one figure or land mark you would want the class to focus on, what would it be? I think this HOT log contains great facts and quotation use, however I would focus on being more specific with one of these historical figures and how it applies to PBL.

  2. suffieldkid says:

    Sam this is great! It is very specific and easy to read. I wonder why we have not learned more about this in our history classes? I think knowing a more specific date for these houses, and an approximation for the number of houses would be very helpful.

  3. 14bsd says:

    This article has great information and is very well written. I think that it is interesting how local these places are in comparison to Suffield Academy. Why do you think that there was a large increase in abolitionist movements post-revolutionary war? Maybe it has something to do with the slaves that fought in the war?

  4. 14dlw says:

    I really enjoyed reading this piece. I enjoy working with things close by, so this is perfect! If you would have to be more specific, what would you want us as a class to dig into further? I would add some more on why this is great for PBL.

  5. 14ross says:

    Great article and super easy read. Is there one thing that you personally would like to expand on or would like to see the class dig through together? Do you think that there are other small towns that were as big as Farmington in terms of UGRR?

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