Catherine Harris: Jamestown's First Lady of the UGRR

Catherine Harris
Catherine Harris, a free black woman, helped many Freedom Seekers as they passed through the Little Africa section of Jamestown at the southern end of Chautauqua Lake.

Nearly 100 Blacks were living in the area Africa. Some were running from slave hunters, some even spied for the slave hunters. People were captured and some free people were kidnapped south. However, the underground railroad was also quite active:

Catherine Harris says (in 1902), "Yes, I remember the underground railroad, it was here [in Africa] and I worked on it; this place of mine was a depot where slaves came and were brought; Silas Shearman, Dr. Hedges, Phineas Crossman, and others would bring here runaway slaves. At one time they brought nine, another 17. I cooked and fed with them with eatables brought by friends; others would help me."

(Africa was a black neighborhood in Jamestown, NY)