Our Press Release: The Other Underground Railroad

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACTS & CALENDAR LISTINGS: Click SA.Presentation.4.19.2016

Bill Sullivan, American Studies Teacher, Suffield Academy bsullivan@suffieldacademy.org

Title: The Other Underground Railroad

A Free Lecture from 7:00-8:00pm on April 19th at Suffield’s Senior Center, 145 Bridge Street. Suffield Academy Students present 18th Century Kidnapping Case During Suffield Historical Society Meeting.

In 1845 Reverend Daniel Hemenway, a West Suffield minister and school teacher, wrote a letter to John Hooker, our state’s leading abolitionist, to enlist his help for freeing certain slaves in Virginia. They were descendants of Flora, an eighteenth century free African-American woman from West Suffield. Hooker and Hemenway then argued that Captain Hanchett, a Revolutionary War Hero and tavern owner in West Suffield, kidnapped Flora and her two children, transported them down the Hudson River, and sold them into slavery. The American Studies class of Suffield Academy will present information from new research about this complex case: this includes kidnapping, the “other” direction of the Underground Railroad, Flora and Exeter’s colonial life, recently discovered documents relating to Reverend Hemenway and his Select School in Suffield, as well as additional implications concerning the nineteenth century Underground Railroad in our town.

Come out and learn the fate of the four sets of Flora’s 19th century children and grandchildren whose fight for freedom involved seven county trials as well as a culminating case heard by Virginia’s Supreme Court. All Society meetings are open to the public, and newcomers are most welcome.

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alex.rider.1817

“Kidnapping” by Alexander Rider

Delineating the learning process about Vicky Chen’s art work for out flyer, she juxtaposed this image of a nineteenth century kidnapping with some of the text from the nineteenth century depositions that described Hanchett and another man forceably taking Flora away. We have some of the depositions on our blog, and the State Library of Virginia as well as the Rockbridge Advocate newspaper have other documents. The most interesting discovery we had as a class was to learn more about early nineteenth century Philadelphia physician, Jesse Torrey, who researched and compiled a book on narratives in his area. Click here to learn more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3h324.html

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