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Peterboro, New York
GSE-Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark
Historic Peterboro, New York

Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform
presented by Norman K. Dann PhD and Peterboro Hertiage Volunteers

Gerrit Smith Flores          051:00pm Saturday, March 11, 2017
Smithfield Community Center 
5255 Pleasant Valley Road
Peterboro, NY 13134

Info: (315) 280- 8828


Crusade for Social Reform in Peterboro NY

Peterboro NY will launch its 2017 Crusade for Social Reform at 1 pm on Saturday, March 11, with the annual celebration of Gerrit Smith’s birthday. Born March 6, 1797, Gerrit Smith, who lived and worked his entire adult life in Peterboro NY, was known for his philanthropy and activism for equality. Norman K. Dann PhD, researcher and author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will introduce the 19th C. Smith family activities, and then volunteers from the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will explain the 2017 programs that will continue the quest for human rights in the 21st C.

The 25th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend June 10 and 11 will feature the relationship of John Brown and Gerrit Smith who were determined to abolish slavery. This weekend event began in 1992 with the vision and leadership of Beth Spokowsky to explain how the relationship between Gerrit Smith and John Brown helped ignite the Civil War. Dr. Dann will describe the events leading up to Harpers Ferry in 1859. The catalyst that brought Smith to Brown’s attention was Smith’s endeavor to assure voting rights to black males by providing 40 acres of land to 3,000 African-Americans. This project in the Adirondacks came to be known as Timbuctoo, and after years of research the John Brown Lives organization has created a travelling exhibit Dreaming of Timbuctoo which will open in Peterboro for Civil War Weekend.  On Saturday afternoon, August 6 during Emancipation Days, Timbuctoo creators will provide programs on the exhibit and voting rights. During Emancipation Days, attendees commemorate the emancipation activities of generations before, and provide Community Conversations to examine the quest for human rights.

In commemoration of the New York State Centennial of Women’s Suffrage, Civil War Weekend will also include a series of programs on Women in the Civil War – from fashion to equal rights. September 23rd Elizabeth Smith Miller will be featured with programs, Morning Marmalade, and a Bloomer Tea to relate her contributions to the domestic sphere of women, to dress reform with her bloomers, and to political equality with her club. Afternoon programs and the evening Suffrage Supper will focus on Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her reform upbringing in Peterboro, as well as her relationship with her reform cousin Gerrit Smith. On Sunday, September 24th Suzanne Spring PhD will explain how the abolition movement launched the Women’s right movement. Area libraries will launch the Community Read of Invention of Wings. The Read will culminate on Sunday, October 22 with a program on Angelina and Sarah Grimké during the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) Commemoration Weekend. A panel will examine current extensions of these crusades for women.  In closing Sally Roesch Wagner PhD will challenge the audience to continue the suffrage movement.

On Saturday October 21 NAHOF will commemorate its 2016 inductees to the Hall of Fame. Programs on Rev. John Gregg Fee, Beriah Green, Angelina Grimké, and James W.C. Pennington will be presented during the Abolition Symposium. A concert by the Berea College choir will honor Rev. Fee, a special tour of Beriah Green’s Utica will be conducted by the Oneida County Freedom Trail, a School of Divinity will honor Rev. Pennington, and The Invention of Wings Community Read culmination will feature the connections of inductee Angelina Grimké to Peterboro.

The public is encouraged to participate in all activities. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame will be open for events, weekend afternoons, by special appointment for group tours, and week days to be determined. Check www.PeterboroNY.org for updates and developments, or contact 315-280-8828.



Gerrit Smith Flores          05Gerrit Smith, the wealthiest land owner in New York State, believed his wealth a divine gift to give away to those less fortunate. He funded many 19thCentury social reforms including abolition, land rights, voting rights, and women’s rights. 

John Brown was introduced to Gerrit Smith through Smith’s land grants to 3000 black men. Smith and five others from Boston supported Brown’s efforts to destabilize slavery. These supporters became known as the Secret Six..


Lock & Luce SF 2015 Tisha Lock and Jody Luce of Peterboro promote Votes for Women in Seneca Falls.




Angelina Grimké was inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum October 22, 2016 and will be commemorated at the Hall October 21 and 22, 2017 with relatives, authors, and a community read of Invention of Wings.



The Dreaming of Timbuctoo exhibit created by John Brown Lives project in Lake Placid explains the 120,000 acres of lands donated by Gerrit Smith to disenfranchised free black men. The exhibit will be in Peterboro June and July 2017.Network to Freedom

National Park Service Stamp
In celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the National Park Service, the Park Service has issued a Network to Freedom Passport Stamp to 75 sites in the nation and 7 sites in New York to mark the anniversary. The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark is proud to be one of these sites.
Get your passport stamped today at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, a documented stop on the Underground Railroad and a member of the Network to Freedom Trail.

Open Saturdays and Sundays 1 - 5 PM from Memorial Day through the last weekend of August.http://www.gerritsmith.org/

    7th Annual Peterboro Emancipation Days
Saturday & Sunday, August 6 & 7, 2016

Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark

5304 Oxbow Road     P.O. Box 6
Peterboro NY 13134

Saturday, August 6, 2016
10:00 Registration
10:30 Assembly, Announcements, Song, and Group Photo followed by Processional to Cemetery
  2:00  National Park Centennial Celebration: Network to Freedom Underground Railroad Passports Issued

Sunday, August 6, 2016
  2:00 Community Conversation: We've Always Been Here: LGBTQ Identities, Race, and the Power of Community
 Facilitated by Drea Finley, Assistant Dean and Director of First Generation Programs, Colgate University, Hamilton NY

For more information and for updates:
info@gerritsmith.org    315-280-8828

7th Annual Peterboro Emancipation Days


The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) will be commemorating Emancipation Days Saturday and Sunday, August 6 and 7 with both traditional and new programs. The event opens at 10:00 am with free parking and free registration at the Estate, followed by programs similar to those conducted in the 1920s and 1930s by a generation celebrating the emancipation of the generation before them.  In 1925, more than 600 black men and women from Central New York made a pilgrimage to Peterboro, home of Gerrit Smith, to pay homage to abolitionists who fought for their freedom. Emancipation Day celebrations grew in later years, drawing crowds of more than 1,000 people, who came from Syracuse, Utica, Ithaca, Binghamton, Oswego and Fulton for parades, picnics and concerts. Although the practice faded after World War II, local descendants of freedom seekers are holding the Peterboro Emancipation Day celebration for the 7th year since its revival in 2010. 


At 10:30 am Co-Chairs of Emancipation Day, Jim Corpin, Carrie Martin, and Max Smith will welcome guests to the event and to the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark. Corpin is a member of the Smithfield Community Association, the governing board of the GSENHL and a member of the Town of Smithfield board. Max Smith is a former mayor of Oneida and a passionate speaker about his roots in Peterboro. Martin is Co-Chair of the GSENHL, Secretary of the Smithfield Community Association, and the organizer of the Peterboro Civil War Living History Day. After assembly, announcements, and song a group event photo is followed by the Processional to the Peterboro Cemetery. Two wreaths are carried to the grave sites: one is laid on the grave of a man or woman that reads Born a Slave; Died a Free Man or Born a Slave; Died a Free Woman, and the other on the humble grave of wealthy abolitionist Gerrit Smith.


After a bring-your-own-picnic, or lunch at the Deli on the Green,  a special program to celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) will open at 2 p.m. with thirteen rings of the Peterboro tower bells calling people to The Barn which was a transportation hub of Underground Railroad activity at the site. The Gerrit Smith Estate is a part of the NPS as a National Historic Landmark and as a site on the Network to Freedom (NTF), the national Underground Railroad Trail. The Estate is one of 75 sites in the nation, and one of seven sites in the state, to receive the NPS Network to Freedom Passport Stamp.  After brief programs by scholars, proclamations by dignitaries, and the presentation of the passport stamp, the stamp will be ready to mark the NPS Centennial Passports available at the Peterboro Mercantile.


Tours of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark will be conducted at 3 pm. At 4 p.m. refreshments will be served at the Smithfield Community Center, the building where the abolitionists of the state held the inaugural meeting of the New York State Antislavery Society in 1835. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will be open to visitors to see a facsimile of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, once owned by Gerrit Smith.


At 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016 a Community Conversation for all interested persons will be held in The Barn. Drea Finley will be the lead facilitator of the We've Always Been Here: LGBTQ Identities, Race and the Power of Community Finley is a member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and is co-chair of its Cultural Diversity Committee. In her working life, Finley serves as an Assistant Dean for Administrative Advising and Director of First Generation Programs at Colgate University. Finley is also a Masters student at Syracuse University in the Higher Education Cultural Foundations Program. As an activist; she writes and speaks often on race and racism and their intersections with other identities and systems of oppression. 


The public is encouraged to join descendants of freedom seekers who came to Peterboro for the free weekend. For updates and more information: www.gerritsmith.orginfo@gerritsmith.org, or 315-280-8828.