Farmington and Black History Month.

Have you ever heard about Farmington and Macedon as hotspots on the Underground Railroad? Few people have. Black history month offers a chance to share some of these amazing stories.
Austin Steward, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, Mary and Emily Edmonson
(From Austin Steward, Twenty-two Years a Slave and Forty Years a Freeman (1857); Onondaga Historical Society; William Wells Brown, Narrative of William W. Brown (1849); Library of Congress.)

You may know something about Austin Steward, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and Mary and Emily Edmonson. All of these freedom seekers achieved national fame, and all lived or spoke in the Farmington-Macedon area. For a quick introduction, see the National Park Service, Network to Freedom, 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse “Takeover” of social media sites: https://www.nps.gov/media/multimedia-search.htm#sort=score+desc&q=network+to+freedom+1816+farmington

Many less well known freedom seekers also came to Farmington, including Selby Howard and Harriet Howard. They escaped from slavery in Maryland to settle in Farmington, where they owned a house. After it burned in 1877, Selby Howard moved to a cabin on land owned by Quakers William and Adelaide Wood. Dave Bruinix, 1816 Board member, now owns this land. Dave is working with Sissie Pipes, archaeologist at SUNY, Geneseo, to plan an archaeological dig of the Howard homesite. Both Selby and Harriet Howard lie buried in North Farmington Cemetery. With permission from the cemetery association, Dave is working with the Pomeroy Foundation on a marker to be placed at Selby and Harriet Howard’s gravesite.
Selby Howard’s gravestone, North Farmington Cemetery
“Born a slave. Lived a free man. Died in the Lord.”

“Farmington, N. Y. - An old resident of our town, a colored man by the name of Selby Howard, after a long and eventful life, is now about to retire to private life. He claims to be 80 years old. In his early life, he, with five brothers, was a slave in Maryland. In course of time his brothers were sold to a planter away in Georgia. Selby being left alone soon conceived the idea of making his escape, and in due time was successful. About the year 1850 he located in this town, where he has lived and labored as a peaceful neighbor, a good citizen, and for one who is illiterate, exemplified the traits of a Christian character to an eminent degree. A few years ago his wife died [July 20, 1874], an event which, with several children having gone before, left the old man childless and alone. Two years later his house was burned, leaving him homeless, but fortunately not without friends. Since that [time] he has shared the hospitality of his neighbors. From this date he will be found at, and known as proprietor of, "Uncle Selby's Cabin," just east of the Friend's on land owned by Wm. Wood, where he will be glad to receive a call from his acquaintances and friends. As he has no means of support, a well-filled basket left occasionally, will not only be acceptably, but gratefully received. Long live Uncle Selby.”
Ontario County Times, December 7, 1881
Found by Charles Lenhart


We are delighted to report that the National Park Service has approved the specifications and drawings done by Bill Brandow of John G. Waite Associates for exterior restoration of the 1816 Meetinghouse. These are now being reviewed by the New York State Historic Preservation Office. We are working with the Town of Farmington in a site plan and permits for restoration. Many thanks to all who have been so helpful with navigating this extensive paperwork.
John G. Waite Associates, “1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse: Exterior Restoration, Construction Documents,”
October 23, 2023

Exhibit Ideas

We are now working with Doreen DeNicola, exhibit designer, and Gretchen Sorin and students in her class at the Cooperstown Graduate School of Museum Studies to develop exhibit ideas for the interpretive center to be placed in our newly restored 1816 Meetinghouse. The west half of the Meetinghouse will be restored to its appearance in the 1840s. The east half will be used for exhibit space, a children’s area, and interactive activities. We are very grateful to Doreen and Gretchen and all the students. Stay tuned for a first public report in May.
Scrim in Woodlawn Museum, Sandy Spring, Maryland, by designer Howard+Revis
Could we use scrims such as this for the 1816 Meetinghouse?

What would you like to see in this interpretive area—themes, children’s area, exhibit ideas, focus on equal rights in the present as well as the past? If you are part of a community or school group who would like to give feedback for exhibit ideas, contact us to arrange a focus group meeting: info@farmingtonmeetinghouse.org.

South Farmington Cemetery.

Congratulations to Farmington Town Historian Donna Hill-Herendeen and all those local people that have worked for so many years to save the South Farmington Cemetery and Chapel. Thanks to their hard work, the South Farmington Cemetery Historic District has just been accepted to the National Register of Historic Places https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2024/02/16/historic-status-comes-for-south-farmington-friends-cemetery/72160291007/. Farmington now has two National Register historic districts, including the Farmington Quaker Crossroads Historic District that includes the 1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse, 1876 Farmington Friends Meeting, and North Farmington Cemetery.

President's Day

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day this year, let us remember one President with ties to Farmington. Herbert Hoover (president from 1929-1933) was born in 1874 to a Quaker family in West Branch, Iowa. His family had roots in the Quaker settlement in Norwich Township, Ontario, Canada. His great-grandparents, Henry and Anne Wasley, were buried in the Quaker Street Burying Ground in Norwich. Norwich’s Hicksite Quaker meeting was part of Genesee Yearly Meeting of Friends, which met every June in Farmington. In honor of his Quaker roots, Hoover likely gave money to support the granite monument erected in 1927 in front of the current Farmington Friends Church.
Herbert Hoover
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