Author Archives: barrett914


An abolitionist, lawyer, and judge John Hooker (1816-1901) lived in Farmington and Hartford. With his brother-in-law, Francis Gillette, he purchased 140 acres in 1853, and they established the neighborhood known as “Nook Farm”. Nook Farm was the home of reformers, politicians, writers and friends; and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain are the most residences there.

In John Hooker’s memoir Some Reminiscences of a Long Life, he mentioned that he was the son of Edward Hooker, who was the fifth in direct descent from Thomas Hooker, the first minister of the First Church of Hartford. (What page is this source? Please supply.)  (During Hooker’s youth, he was inspired by his ancestor of being reformers of Connecticut; he also had the sense of responsibility to help reform the local community.) John Hooker also experienced Amistad case first hand in Farmington, Connecticut. His memoir alludes to the fact that his law office in Farmington on the store’s second floor in the 1840s. His office was also next to an African men from Amistad captives. The building was originally on Main Street next to the Deming’s house, and later moved to the Mill Lane in the 1930s.

Farmington residence wanted Hooker to stay there and become the minister to preach; however, Hooker decided to move to Hartford to further his legal John Hooker was an active abolitionist throughout his legal career. For instance, he was instrumental in helping Reverend James Pennington gain his freedom from his Maryland slave owner for $150 when Reverend Pennington was a minister at the Talcott Street Congregational Church. This financial arrangement helped Pennington feel safe in the north, and Reverend Pennington returned from exile in Europe. John Hooker was also the president of an anti-slavery committee in Hartford and organized the liberty convention on October 27th, 1846.

Hooker and Beecher raised three children in their home in Nook Farm at the corner of Forest and Hawthorn Streets. Under his wife’s influence, he fought for women’s right and  supported Harriet Beecher Stowe during the initiation of her activist career. John and Isabella Beecher Hooker composed “A Woman’s Property Bill”, published in 1877. (page 13 print out)

John Hooker served as a congregational deacon but with his curiosity, he accepted the Spiritualism belief that it was possible to communicate with spirits.

External Links section (WEBSITES)


-Nook Farm page (that we need to make) and this house:

-Thomas Hooker. Is he a descendant of this great figure of #CTHistory?


-Charter Oak (no wikipedia page) (page that mentions Hooker) (connecticut

-A Woman’s Property Bill

-Tempest- Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker, Susan Campbell

446, Labor, Slavery, and Self-Government, Volume 11, Herbert Baxter Adams,

-Hartford Historical Society

-Farmington Historical Society

HOT LOG Reflection

blog_pbtp_gspbl-300x300Even after the presentation, which I imagined would be our culmination, we have kept strong and continued to push on as a class to further our case for the underground railroad in CT. If there is anything valuable to be learned about this academic adventure that we embarked on, it is that there is always something to find and uncover. We have faced this multiple times as we reached dead ends and had to look in different sources and mediums. As we dive even deeper into our project passed learning study, we are finding more about our original Underground Railroad activists. Along the way we have also stumbled upon some side note about individuals who might give us clues to understanding the bigger picture of abolitionists in New England. While studying these abolitionists’ lives, there have been several people embodied with a certain characteristic that I’ve been studying in previous hot logs. The rebellious, defiant, well-educated and thirsty for justice abolitionists made a huge impact on the time and the African-Americans with whom they collaborated. As we are making Wikipedia pages and connecting all of our members of the UGGR together, we are slowly beginning to see the bigger picture and interconnected network that truly existed. Looking forward to the last two weeks of the term, I think it will be very important to wrap up any loose ends that may be remaining and also make final connections in our work so that classes in the future can start where we left off or take the information that we have found and use it to forward a different PBL excursion. On a side note I have personally enjoyed this style of class very much as opposed to other English classes, and I think that all the information learned through these two terms will remain engrained in my memory forever.

Tarrytown Connection

Over the past couple weeks of research, I have been able to find a lot more data and sources to more firmly prove the existence of a second underground railroad. I have been exploring the into the characteristics of an educated individual who helps out fugitive slaves as well as being a prominent member in local society and or involvement with the local church. In my investigation, I found a strong correlation between individuals containing these characteristics and helping out with escaping fugitive slaves. Henry Forster is a perfect example of such influential character who had been mentioned last year but not fully researched. As a cobbler and religious man, Foster was considered an intellectual and according to documentation had played a key role in the aid of escape of fugitive slaves. As for new leads, I found one of the biggest connections so far in my research. I stumbled upon another church organization called AME Zion Church that works closely with Taj’s first Baptist church in the transportation and corroboration of fugitive slaves. Rather than extending along the coast, I believe that there have been many different branches of this railroad sprouting like a tree and conjoining in the far north. One thing is clear, the black freemen were given minimal credit for their instrumental role in helping fellow African Americans escape the hardships of slavery. What is not initially apparent when researching Henry Foster is his involvement with a church congregation in Tarry town. Foster Memorial AME Zion Church was “founded in 1860, by Amanda and Henry Foster, Rev. Jacob Thomas, and Hiram Jimerson. Amanda Foster, considered the “Mother of the Church,” was the driving force in the formation of the congregation whose first meetings were held in her confectionery store” ( The church poses a large question as to the possibility of an expansion in our focused study. According to another source, During the Civil War, “members of Foster AME helped to provide food and shelter to fugitive slaves escaping to Canada, and also provided assistance to those fugitive slaves who decided to settle in Tarrytown. Like most AME churches, Foster AME is a religious and social crossroads for the black community, providing a meeting place for worship and a place for public interaction” ( It can most likely be deduced that the church congregation did not simply stop aiding the escape of claves after the end of the civil war. I want to look further into this connection and research more into the possibility of other branches in this underground network spanning across New England. For the the time being I think that I am on a good path and I am up to date with everything I need to be in order to be prepared for our presentation. I have recently started looking into the documents that we as a class have had a privilege to view documenting relevant underground railroad cites. “It’s amazing how secretive they remained, even after the [Civil War],” said Diana Ross McCain, a historian who recently reviewed 13 supposed sites in Connecticut (


The Undiscovered Path


As we are nearing the end of our first full week of learning about the Underground Railroad there are still many questions left unanswered. As a class we must look forward to what is to come in the next weeks of the winter term. There are so many possible connections through New England to the slave escape exchange that finding evidence is so easy. Looking into the Hemenway School and uncovering the potential link with people along the railroad is going to be something that is key to our investigation. Although, I think that we should focus on breaking down the evidence we have now before moving on to further sources. Earlier this week I found an article relating to a black man named Henry Foster. A member of the Faith Congregation in Hartford, CT and a tailor at the time, Foster helped aid of many slaves in their escape North. I believe that it is important to explore the Foster as well as the Church because Hartford was a major city at the time. The slave that we are tracking (INSERT) even took the ferry down the Connecticut River from Hartford. As a hub for industry and transportation, Hartford was the perfect place for abolitionists to take action and aid in the escape of thousands of slaves from captivity. As a class and as a team we should launch into looking back into records kept by storeowners in Hartford relating to slaves and their surreptitious transportation. We can check library logs to see ticketing information for ferry’s coming through Harford as well as church bulletins. The next step in our research will require extreme comprehension of documents related to the individuals involved in the 20th regiment. As well, we should be getting out in the field like we will be tomorrow. Taking pictures and documenting raw evidence around Connecticut that has to do with our research will further our knowledge and help our study. Many of the cites around Suffield are not photographed online and are not studied in great detail, this gives our class a great opportunity to explore and investigate what it was actually like back in Ruggles’ day. As we begin to look at Hemenway’s school it is important to question the possibility that he aided in the education of escaped slaves at his small boarding school in Suffield. Could Hemenway have been associated with the Faith Church or other Abolitionists along the Underground Railroad and how does our (INSERT) fit into the untold story of the Underground Railroad in New England? These are just a couple of the many questions we should hope to strive towards answering through our research in the field and in the classroom. With technological and hands on skills, I am confident that our class can find some answers to the mysterious and undivulged story of New Englands Underground Railroad

Sources: “Tracking the Truth of the Underground Railroad.” N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.

“” ConnecticutHistoryorg Reverend James Pennington A Voice for Freedom Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015.