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.