NY-FREEDMEN-L ArchivesArchiver > NY-FREEDMEN > 2002-08 > 1028599786
From: Cindy Amrhein <>
Subject: [NY-FREEDMEN] colored men 1892 - railroad workers
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 2002 22:29:04 -0400
Thought I would pass this along to the list.
Batavia, Genesee County, New York State
ON THEIR WAY SOUTH.
Bergen.--The 6:55 train this morning brought to this village
ninety-three colored men and five women. They came north from Tennessee to
work on the Adirondack railroad, but were turned back at Utica by the
reports which they heard, and are on their way home. They were sent to
Bergen by the Overseer of the Poor of Monroe county, and they will have to
be assisted on by our Poormaster.
These negroes, with many others, were induced to leave their homes in
Columbia, Tennessee, last Saturday, by the golden promises contained in
handbills reading as follows and which were distributed in various sections
of the South:
Last Chance for New York.
Two hundred Railroad Laborers will leave the depot at Columbia on
Saturday, March 26th, at 5:30 p.m., for Booneville, N.Y., for McDonald,
Shea, & Co., contractors.
Transportation furnished; pay $1.50 per day; board $1.50 per week. Be
on hand. First that comes will go to the number of 200.
Charles N. VAUGHT or
They reached Utica, N.Y., on Monday and upon learning of the cruelties
and hardships inflicted upon other negro laborers who had been employed in
the Adirondack region refused to go further and decided to return to their
abodes in warmer Tennessee. Their transportation north was paid by agents
of the contractors, and as a rule they were penniless. There were fifty of
them in the party that arrived in Utica, and that city's officials, to
relieve the city of their presence and to aid them in returning home,
yesterday gave them railroad tickets to Rome, where they were again
and were passed along from station to station by the poormasters, reaching
Rochester at 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The party which left Utica had
been increased to 98, the additional ones being picked up along the road.
In Rochester they were placed in a car, where they remained until this
morning, when they were sent on to Bergen by Superintendent of the Poor
The Rochester 'Herald' says that most of the negroes were very scantily
clothed, a pair of trousers, shirt, coat and shoes being the entire outfit.
In some cases the coats were missing and the occupants of the trousers and
shirts would stand around with their hands in their pockets and draw
themselves together as much as possible in order to keep out the cold.
During the evening the car was so densely packed that it was with difficulty
that one could crowd through. The scene was one such as seldom afforded in
a northern city. Most of the occupants of the car were young men, but there
were a few who could look back into slavery days. In spite of the fact that
probably fifteen cents could not have been raised in the car and that they
were many hundred miles from home all seemed happy, taking it for granted
that the white people of the north would take care of them. The banjo was
tuned and when they had made way with the food that had been brought to
them, they passed the time in singing plantation melodies with now and then
some popular air intermingled for the sake of variety. Along toward
midnight sleep put an end to what little trouble they had and another car
having been furnished them they managed to spend the night as comfortably as
they could have desired.
An Alabama negro, who escaped from the Adirondacks with six others last
Sunday night, was one of the party. He told a pitiful story of the
experiences of the colored men in the mountains. They were, he said,
overworked, underfed, and guarded constantly by men with Winchesters. They
slept in huts with only a blanket and a little straw to keep them warm and
many of them show the effects of the zero weather in frostbitten feet. The
Alabamain said that men who had been at work there for several months told
him that they had received no money and the fear of the men over them was
all that kept them from leaving.
(Submitted by Linda Schmidt to the Genesee Rootsweb list 08/04/2002))
Town of Alabama Historian
Genesee Co., NY
Historian's Page - Alabama, NY
Experience the town of Alabama in Genesee County, New York. History, tombstone inscriptions, census records, history of the Tonawanda Seneca Indians and the Iroquois. Enjoy a good murder mystery? Read about the murders of Polly Frisch.
(The Association of Public Historians of New York State)
Genesee County, NY website. Includes History Department, (under "Historian")
The Genesee Area Genealogy Society lists the names and addresses for all the Genesee & Wyoming County Historians