One More River to Cross at Underground Railroad Heritage Area

 

When fleeing slaves from the southern U.S. reached Niagara Falls, they knew they had one more river to cross. But what a river it was with its roiling cataract. The new Underground Railroad Heritage Area in Niagara Falls, NY. chronicles some of the notable African-Americans who escaped across the river and helped others to make their way to freedom.

Recently I had the privilege of touring the new museum. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Underground Railroad” refers to a series of places where escaping slaves could receive shelter and assistance after leaving the South. Following the North Star, they headed for the northern U.S., where slavery was outlawed.

However, after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, bounty hunters could recapture slaves in the north and return them to bondage. For this reason, it was far better for these fugitives to go all the way to Canada. When they reached Niagara Falls, they had one more river to cross.

Anthony Involvement in the Underground Railraoad

The Anthony family approved of this civil disobedience of helping slaves escape. They hosted many antislavery dinners at their farm home in Rochester, and three of their children (Susan, D.R., and Merritt) campaigned against slavery with speeches, petition campaigns, and physical warfare. Among the family’s closest friends were Undergound Railroad “conductors” (owners of safe houses) Amy and Isaac Post and Frederick Douglass.

Active or Passive Escapees?

Sometimes conductors used the code word “parcel” for a fugitive needing assistance. This term erroneously suggests that freedom seekers were passive goods carried away from slavery by other (usually white) people’s initiatives. The term gives little credit to the courage and intelligence exhibited by fleeing slaves themselves. (I strove for the correct balance in The Truth About Daniel, when I wrote about the escape of Randall Burton on Martha’s Vineyard.)

The Underground Railroad Heritage Area tips the racial balance by showing black abolitionists at work, united in the effort to help freedom seekers cross their last barrier  to freedom, the Niagara River.. A daring feat, to say the least. More next time.

 

 

Susan B. Anthony’s Forgotten Brother

The “The Truth About Daniel: Susan B. Anthony’s Forgotten Brother”

Powerpoint presentation by Jeanne Gehret

Saturday, April 21, 1-2:30

Rochester Public Library, Central (Rundel) branch

115 South Avenue

Sonsored by Rochester’s Rich History Series

Preparing this presentation has been fun, since it offers another opportunity for me to gather facts in one place on this many-faceted man. This blog has offered many sound bytes about him. However, the Powerpoint talk will present a concise overview of his long and controversial life.

It’s always a pleasure to talk about Rochester’s rich history. Hope to see you there!

P.S. The talk is based on my 2017 historical novel The Truth About Daniel.  You can get a signed copy at the presentation. Or order it on Amazon or Kindle.

 

 

All about Susan B. Anthony

Jeanne Gehret is all about Susan B. Anthony. Ever since 1994, when she first served as a docent at the Susan B. Anthony House Museum, Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Susan B. Anthony!

On February 15 we celebrate Susan B. Anthony’s birthday in 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts. When she was a girl, there were only seven professions Continue reading

Progress Report on the Dauntless Series

After the holidays I got bitten by the decluttering bug, resulting in a massive cleanup effort in my office. Removal of some furniture gave me a new view of my beloved books, plus some favorite objects in purple, the color of suffrage.

Continue reading

Air and water bad for your health?

In the 19th century, before modern medicine, you could easily die from what you inhaled or drank. This was particularly true if you were a baby. That is because they did not yet understand the nature of infectious disease or have the means to prevent it.

I was always puzzled when I read that the average lifespan for Americans in the 1800s was about 45. After all, all of Susan B. Anthony’s siblings and most of her friends lived well beyond what we consider middle age. Finally, I asked my friend Terry Lehr for help. She is a former nurse and author of an upcoming book on the flu epidemic of 1918. Terry explained that it was extremely common for children to die before they were five years old, and this brought down the average age considerably. (Click here for an overview of 19th century medicine that focuses on the highly-contagious puerperal fever.)

Infectious Diseases Varied By Season

Cold weather brought respiratory diseases spread through the air, especially pneumonia, influenza, and diphtheria, which was called “the strangling disease” because sufferers frequently developed a membrane in their throats that cut off their airways.

Warm weather, while easier on the lungs, was harder on the digestive tract. Illnesses–especially cholera, but also typhoid fever and dysentery–could reach epidemic proportions, killing thousands of Americans during  bad seasons and causing others to evacuate affected towns. Rivers, streams, and ground water, polluted with feces, carried the illness across the continent. Closer to home, babies were particularly susceptible to germs in spoiled milk because it was a disproportionate percentage of their entire diet.

What does this have to do with this website on the Anthony kin? Because as I’ve been visiting Anthony grave sites and reading letters and diaries, I keep coming across sad remembrances of family members who succumbed to such diseases. At least one of those deaths will darken the pages of the sequel of The Truth About Daniel.

Photo of the Anthony burial plot in Rochester by Jeanne Gehret.

Life in the Finger Lakes review

We are pleased and honored that The Truth About Daniel was recently featured in Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine. The review praised the novel’s good pace, handling of critical historical events, and “careful attention…to mores and manners of the time.” See the complete review here, titled “Endurance, Determination, and Resolve.”

http://susanbanthonyfamily.com/books/

Please like, share, and tweet this post at the top of this page. Thank you!

Endurance, Determination and Resolve

S.B. Anthony family books on Kindle for 99 cents today

Books about Susan B. Anthony and her brother Daniel R. Anthony

Today there’s a Kindle ebook offer of these two books for 99 cents each. If you’ve followed this blog, now’s the time to get them so you can enjoy the stories in their entirety.

Tomorrow they go up to $1.99, and after that, they’re regularly priced at $2.99. Please tweet, like, and share at the top of this post. Thank you!

 

 

All for Suffrage, part 2

Susan B. Anthony’s five siblings, like her parents, were all for suffrage. They supported the right of every American Continue reading

Three Susan B. Anthony Events

Jeanne Gehret as Susan B. Anthony

Three Susan B. Anthony events feature Jeanne Gehret, author of two books about the Anthony family. These programs honor the centennial of woman suffrage in NY state. Signups are essential at the libraries:

  • Tuesday, 7 pm., Perinton Historical Society, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” discusses how Susan’s entire family supported her reform work
  • Thursday, 7 pm, Brighton Memorial Library, “All for Suffrage: the Kin of Susan B. Anthony” 585-783-5300
  • http://www.brightonlibrary.org/
  • Saturday, 1 pm, Irondequoit Public Library, “Failure is Impossible” (re-enactment of Susan B. Anthony) 585-336-6060

Click here for a fuller description of those programs. Hope to see you there! ‎

Books by Jeanne Gehret: