Highlights of the Lake Ontario Underground Railroad Lecture Series June 11 – Oswego County Today

Pictured is the Oswego Public Library. The Oswego Public Library was founded in 1853 by noted abolitionist Gerrit Smith who stipulated that it “excludes no one on account of race, achievement, or condition.” Photo courtesy of Oswego County.

OSWEGO COUNTY – Immerse yourself in history with the 2022 Lake Ontario Lecture Series! The next program will run from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at Gates Hall, 4107 Lake Rd., Pultneyville, New York, 14538.

Learn about the “Underground Railway Connections (UGRR) to Lake Ontario” with a panel of historical Great Lake experts. The event is organized by the local advisory board of the Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Project.

Anyone interested can attend in person or join virtually. Go to www.tinyurl.com/UGRRLakeOntario to register for in-person or virtual participation. The event is free to the public and light refreshments will be available.

Guest speakers include:

Sue-Jane Evans, longtime Wayne County resident and active volunteer with the Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society, will speak about the local abolitionist movement. His presentation features Captain Horatio Nelson Throop and other highlights from the UGRR network in Wayne County.

Marjory Allen Perez, author and former Wayne County historian, will speak about Maxwell Settlement, an African-American community on the outskirts of Sodus Point. Founded in 1815 by former slaves, the community was ideally located to help and protect others seeking freedom on their journey.

Edward Elsner is the acting director of the Oswego Public Library. His presentation focuses on the origins of the library, thanks to the famous abolitionist Gerrit Smith. Founded in 1853, it was his greatest gift and it is now the oldest public library in the country that still stands in its original building. One of the stipulations of Smith’s donation was that it “did not exclude anyone because of race, complexion, or condition.”

Mexico City Village Deputy Mayor Jim Hotchkiss and longtime educator Allie Proud are both leaders of the Historical Society of Mexico. Helping to open the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum in Mexico, the two will once again join forces to showcase the history of the city and village of Mexico City, NY in relation to the UGRR. Mexico was a major center of abolitionist activity where many well-documented flights to freedom were planned and carried out.

The Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Local Advisory Council is a 15-member group created to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) guide the proposed sanctuary through the designation process. NOAA oversees the National Marine Sanctuary System (NMS).

The proposed NMS for Lake Ontario would encompass over 1,700 square miles of eastern Lake Ontario. It will protect and showcase dozens of shipwrecks and other historically significant underwater assets. NOAA announced its intention to designate the marine sanctuary in April 2019, and in mid-2021 released draft documents related to the proposed sanctuary. For more information on the Lake Ontario SGEN project, visit https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/lake-ontario/.

For more information on the lecture series, contact the Oswego County Tourism Board at 315-349-8322 or Katie Malinowski, Vice Chair of the Lake Ontario NMS Advisory Board, at [email protected]

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