Dear State Historic Preservation Office,
In the search to identify a site for the underground railroad in Suffield, CT, we in the American Studies class at Suffield Academy found an interesting and important player in the Connecticut Underground Railroad story. As a project based learning class, we try to work as a team and investigate this problem and have come across many figures, such as David Ruggles, Amos Beman, and Rev. James Pennington. These figures have led us all over New England in search for new resources for our investigation. Although it is our goal to find enough information to identify a historical site in Suffield, we feel it is our duty to speak out about other existing unidentified sites we come across along the way. In this way, we would like to partner with someone to install a historical marker for Henry Foster on Bliss Street.
In this search for figures to find evidence of the UGRR in Suffield, we came across one in an article written by Steve Grant in the Hartford Current, identifying Henry W. Foster, a Hartford tailor in the mid 1800’s. We heard of Henry Foster from our research about David Ruggles as well as reading William Green’s narrative that includes mentioning his connections with Ruggles (NYC), Foster (Hartford) and Osgood (Springfield). This article led us to a significant resource, that being the Connecticut Historical Library, where we found documents providing significant evidence that Foster lived on Bliss St. in Hartford (currently known as Trinity Street). This information can be verified in the 1850 city directory; we had assistance Diana McCain, head of the research center at the Connecticut Historical Society. Here’s another link to our research story: https://digitalcrowsnest.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/how-can-we-establish-an-historical-sign-for-henry-foster/
The Charter Oak Newspaper documents James Foster as an active abolitionist and contributor to the Underground Railroad in 1850. All the evidence is here for proof of the site, but as a class we now ask what is missing? We are on our way to identifying, and commemorating sites in Suffield, beginning with the unidentified slaves buried in the local cemetery, and with future hopes to identify a home involved in the Underground Railroad. However we believe one must take the intuitive to properly mark and commemorate the site of Fosters home in Hartford, as it is clearly a historical site in the history of the Underground Railroad.
We believe efforts should be made to have this site equipped with a historical marker. James Foster is a man who lived upholding abolition and his actions were successful. These are the noble deeds that one should be recognized for. We believe all who walk through Bushnell Park should have the opportunity to learn of his work through some sort of commemoration at the site. Please take this information into consideration in the greater effort of providing more recognition for The Underground Railroad in Connecticut. How can we help?
Suffield Academy’s American Studies, PBL ‘2013-14