Gerrit Smith’s annual birthday party will be held at the Smithfield Community Center in Peterboro NY, hosted by the Smithfield Community Association (SCA), the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL), and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF). Born March 6, 1797, Smith was the wealthiest landowner in New York State and believed that his wealth was a divine gift to give away to the less fortunate – especially the enslaved.
Norman K. Dann PhD will speak to the revisions of his 2009 biography of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Justice and sign newly published editions. Dann will share information from his continuing research on Smith and his family which is included in the revised publication, as well as information for a forthcoming book on Gerrit Smith Miller.
Nell Ziegler, President of the Smithfield Community Association (SCA) and Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL), will update on The Barn restoration at the Estate which is on the national Underground Railroad Trail (Network to Freedom). Max Smith and James Corpin, Co-Chairs of the Annual Peterboro Emancipation Day, will describe the August 5, 2023 activities planned at The Barn, The Laundry, and the Peterboro Cemetery honoring the Black history of the hamlet. Owen Corpin will add plans for an expanded Watch Night initiative. Ziegler will also update on 2023 plans for the SCA and the Peterboro Mercantile.
Beth Spokowsky will provide a brief history of the Smithfield Community Association and its works followed by Milton C. Sernett PhD, co-author with Smithfield Historian Donna Dorrance Burdick, of Within these Walls: Celebrating 200 Years of the Smithfield Community Center. Sernett will describe the historic 1835 event as told in his book “Come to Peterboro!” Both books will be available for purchase.
The Abolition Road Steering Committee will provide a pictorial account of the Abolition Freedom Walk October 22, 2022, the inaugural reenactment of the walk from the canal in Canastota in order to “come to Peterboro” October 22, 1835. The report will be accompanied by a hearty invitation to join the 2023 Abolition Freedom Walk on October 21st.
The Smithfield Community Association will relaunch the campaign to preserve the Smithfield Community Center. The SCC200More campaign has been postponed since 2020 due to the pandemic. For the past two years Matthew Urtz, Madison County Historian, has interviewed persons who have had affiliations with the Community Center – such as students, stewards, governmental service, etc). As part of a grant from the Museum Association of New York, Urtz has created, and will present, a short film of interviews.
A brief rundown of activities planned for Peterboro Juneteenth Weekend June 17 – 19, 2023 will conclude the afternoon celebration - along with Gerrit’s birthday cake.
Smithfield Community Center
5255 Pleasant Valley Rd,
Peterboro, NY 13134