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Posted by / 28-Jun-2017 18:54

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Unfortunately, we suffer from a supply and demand problem.

Demand for Type A Underground Railroad hiding places exceeds the supply, which inevitably results in spurious attributions.

These claims are never attributed to eyewitnesses, such as "My great-grandma owned that property and she told my mom who told me."Certainly, oral legend may be all that survives from people who couldn't read and write.

If so, how come there are no surviving legends that match the addresses found (below) in period sources?

In 1848, the anti-slavery Free Soil Party was founded in Buffalo. Severance was the first to write about the Underground Railroad on the Niagara Frontier.

Five years into the Fugitive Slave Act, in 1855, Buffalo was openly defying it. In 1903, he noted the paucity of sites in Buffalo:"...comparatively little seems to have been gathered up regarding Buffalo's stations and workers.

I created this page because I noticed, just as night follows day, that any identification of a pre-Civil War building is inevitably accompanied by an Underground Railroad claim, which in turn is unsupported by any evidence.

No one bothers to look for the "abundant documentation" that Bordewich mentions.

We must also note a puzzling absence in the popular folklore.

At least some of them must be accurate and therefore known to those who were active in the cause but not necessarily literate.

Even when a story's provenance can be established, genealogists and historians know that myths are handed down through generations just as easily as facts, if not more so.

It appears that there just weren't many hiding places here. Examples include: Keep in mind that New York State abolished slavery in 1827, which resulted an environment of relative freedom and safety.

In 1843, Buffalo hosted the National Negro Convention.

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But what measure of freedom, opportunity, and dignity it did offer was still a big improvement over living in bondage. If we have demolished 99% of our pre-Civil War architecture, then sadly we must conclude that we have demolished 99% of our Underground Railroad sites. Modern claims about UGRR sites must be approached with skepticism.

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