Here is an article about Farmington
Friends in 1849, who were involved
in a very famous rescue of the
Edmondson sisters from slavery.

They were two of 77 people who
tried to escape from slavery in
Washington,D.C., in 1848 on a
ship called the PEARL. William
Chaplin, editor of the ALBANY
PATRIOT, was one of those
involved in this rescue. The PEARL
ran aground, and all on board
were captured and sold into slavery.
The Edmondson sisters, through
the efforts of their father, were
purchased and brought to the
Farmington area. They later
made a lecture tour around upstate
New York to help William Chaplin
get out of jail in Maryland when
he was again captured in Maryland.

ITEM #20128--from Accessible
Archives Database. Found by
Tanya Warren
October 26, 1849
Rochester, New York


Of the Provisional Committee,
for the Promotion of Education
among the Colored People, in
such of the Slave States are,
or may be accessible.
The organization of this Committee,
is the work of necessity. It grew
out of the consideration, that the
labors and prayers of the friends of
the slave had been blessed in the
deliverance of many thousands from
the fetters of legal bondage. But
their condition, when thus
emancipated, suggests the important
inquiry, that how glorious soever
may be our success in the future,
whether the consummation we so
ardently desire would not be reft
of half its interest and importance
if we were denied the reasonable
anticipation, that a blow so well
aimed and effective, would be
followed by a ready zeal, fidelity and
insight, in ample preparations to
impart the rudiments of sound
knowledge, with healthful morel
discipline, to the youthful masses just
escaped from legal bondage.
What is true of our slaves and colored
people, is true of every people,
long outcast and degraded. Such can
secure the recognition of their
rights, only through an intellectual
and moral regeneration. They
must burst the fetters of ignorance, and
vanquish the dominion of low,
sensual passions, or live and die in a
condition, in no way more exalted,
or worthy of a divine manhood, than
that of the veriest slaves!
The time has fully come in our
judgment, when a well advised and
effected plan may be vigorously
prosecuted for the enlightment and
elevation of our colored people,
who are at least nominally free,
though in the Slave States. In
some of those States they are not
seriously interrupted in the pursuit
of knowledge. They may be reached
in either of two ways, to wit: by
establishing schools directly among
them, or by selecting young persons
of good morals, and endowed with
active, strong powers of mind, who,
when sufficiently trained under
good teachers and the best social
influences to be found at the North,
may return to labor in the department
of instruction, among their
friends and the people of their peculiar
class at the South. This
latter is the idea which strikes us
forcibly, and which, for the
present, we shall seek to make
available by our efforts. Through the
events of Providence we have it
in our power, just now, in an easy,
quiet way, to make an experiment
in the direction alluded to, and under
the most agreeable and gratifying

The Edmondson Sisters, Mary and
Emily, you know by reputation. Their
brief history is singular
and affecting. It is enough to say,
that they were for seven months in
the hands of slave-traders, in
Washington, Baltimore, Alexandria, and
New Orleans - that their virtuous
and christian character afforded them
a shield of complete defence -
That by a rare impulse of social
sympathy, twenty-two hundred
and fifty dollars were raised for their
redemption! They are of a good
family - are now in this neighborhood,
under the most favorable
circumstances to be thoroughly taught,
possessing highly respectable
capacities, with most exemplary industry,
and a rare deportment for propriety;
they are anxious to acquire
information that will, in every way,
render them competent and
effective, as teachers and examples
among their people in the District
of Columbia. This Committee propose
to take charge of them - to advise
them, and to raise whatever means
may be required in the course of
their education. Others of equal
promise will, no doubt, soon offer
themselves. Indeed, we are well
informed, that any number of persons
adapted to the object we have in
view, can at any time be selected at
Washington or Baltimore.

Allow us to say, that it is not our
purpose to make pets of our
beneficiaries - to spoil them by
indulgence, or by superficial, shallow
views of the relations and duties
of life. It shall be our aim to
foster and assist their own exertions,
and by no means to supersede
them. Nor is it our design, in any
way, to build up schools exclusively
for colored children. We shall
place them where the chances for sound
instruction, exact discipline, and
real elevation of character, are the
most completely satisfactory.
Our limits forbid addition to this
hasty outline of our plans. We
wish to regard you as a corresponding
member of our body, and to look
to you constantly for counsel and
support, as a cordial and active
laborer in a common field of
enterprise and responsibility.
- Is it not
a delightful thought, that by a
united effort, the women of New York
can, in a brief period, place in
the District of Columbia, or the State
of Maryland, a dozen intelligent,
well-trained colored females, as
teachers of schools and models
of manners, behavior and character, to
exert an influence among those,
who are most sadly in need of its
quickening power?

You are left free to raise funds
and to bring this interesting
subject before the community
around you, in such way as
seems to you
most convenient, and at the
same time surest to reach a
speedy and desirable result.
The Committee will take care
that you receive frequently a f
ull report of what they design
and accomplish, and
especially of the manner in
which all the money and resources put at
their disposal are applied.

Your friends, truly.
P.S. Please to direct your
communications to our Secretary, C.G.
Hamblin, Farmington, Ontario Co., N.Y.


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1 comment:

Quaker Web Weaver said...


From my records-

This October 26, 1849 letter predates the 1850 Cazenovia Fugitive Slave
Convention Picture that has Garrett Smith with outstretched arms presenting
these same Edmondson sisters - with Frederick Douglass seated in front of
them and a man believed possibly to be Joseph Comstock Hathaway writing at
the desk. - See

FYI 1. I have discovered that the Massachusetts Historical Society has a
large collection of abolitionists' photographs that were collected for
William Lloyd Garrison's 4 volume autobiography that only used a handful of
photographs and did not use the one of Farmington's President of Western
New York's Anti-Slavery Society, Joseph Comstock Hathaway (among others)
that they have listed. I had

checked through the autobiography about a month ago after conferring with
Ontatio County Historian

Preston Pierce who did not know of this collection of pictures (I can come
up with a number of "new" discoveries in my research) and had suggested to
check out the book at the Rochester Public Library after he discovered that
they had the book.

See -


for collection of abolitionist photos

Collection Description

Portraits of American abolitionists collected by writer Francis Jackson
Garrison to accompany his biography of William Lloyd Garrison. The
collection also contains images of British abolitionists, as well as
American opponents of abolition. The portraits include paper photographs,
tintypes, engravings, lithographs, and photomechanical reproductions, dating
between 1850 and 1890. Most of the photographers and artists are

Repository: Massachusetts Historical Society

1154 Boylston Street

Boston, MA 02215

Box 3 #81.316 Hathaway, Joseph C

I would like to sometime know if picture at the Massachusetts Historical
Society collaborates with the possible picture of Joseph Comstock Hathaway
at the 1850 Cazenovia Fugitive Slave Convention.

FYI 2. I believe that the Phebe Hathaway listed in the letter Judith
mentioned was Joseph C. Hathaway's 30 year old sister

Maria E. Wilbur is (ahem) my ancestor, daughter of a Quaker preacher from
Dutchess County, signer of the Declaration of Sentiments, at the time of
this letter, 51 year old grandmother and at that time living in Macedon,
Wayne County, New York, the wife of a Mill owner, Eseck Wilbur (Eseck's name
appears in other abolitionist supportive signings.)

Eseck & Maria Ellison Wilbur circa 1850

27 year old Cassandara Green Hamlin, as Judith knows, I helped to unearth
doing some detective work for Cayuga County as her named kept cropping up a
a number of abolitionist articles , where she was from and was a daughter of
a 2 time Sheriff - pioneer farmer , then moved to Farmington where she

raising 2 sons after her first husband died and remarried a second cousin
of Joseph C. Hathaway, by the name of John Bolles Hathaway.

Anna P. Adams is the one I have not pinpointed yet - keeping an eye out for

57 year old Hannah Comstock Smith, I believe has to be the wife of Asa B
Smith, (per "A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America" by
John Adams Comstock, printed by the Commonwealth Press, Los Angeles,
California, 1949 p 69). Asa B. Smith is mentioned in > http://webroots

>> Uncle Tom's Story of His Life. An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah

>> Henson (Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom"). From 1789 to 1876,

>> by Josiah Henson, edited by John Lobb


>> Published: London, "Christian Age" Office, 89, Farringdon Street, 1876


>> Uncle Tom's Story - Chapters XXIII-XXVII








>> I had made several efforts to induce my brother to run away previous

>> to my going to England. Mr. William L. Chaplain, of New York, saw him

>> in his southern home, and tried to induce him to take the underground

>> railroad-- that is, to run away. But he


>> Page 153


>> found my brother's mind so demoralised or stultified by slavery, that

>> he would not risk his life in the attempt to gain his freedom, and he

>> informed me of this fact. Still I could not rest contented, and Mr.

>> Chaplain promised to make another effort, as he intended to visit the

>> neighbourhood again. He laboured with my brother the second time, with

>> no good result, and then he endeavoured to assist Mr. Toomb's slaves,

>> who had resolved to escape from Georgia to Canada. Mr. Chaplain was

>> detected, and thrown into prison to await a trial. He was released on

>> bail, three times the amount of the value of the slaves. The

>> Hathaways, benevolent Quakers of Farmington, New York, Asa B. Smith

>> and William R. Smith, his son, of the same town, paid the bail, which

>> they desired Mr. Chaplain to forfeit, as they knew that the result of

>> a trial would be that he would be hung. I will here add that the

>> Smiths had to sell their farms, and were pecuniarily ruined for the

>> time, and it is with pleasure that I make this record of their

>> generosity in the Anti-Slavery cause.

The son, William R. Smith, I believe (unless there were 2 William R. Smiths
in the area associated with the Underground Railroad) , is mentioned P 195
of "History of Wayne County" article on Samuel C. Cuyler as an operative of
the underground railroad although as being from nearby Macedon (?? possibly
caused by a different time period, or a blurred town boundary??)


Yours truly,

Charles Lenhart

Hilton, New York