12 West 7th Street
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Here stood a station of Underground R.R. in which Catherine Harris did heroic service for fugitive slaves
State Education Department — 1936
What was there
A very modest frame home, a mere 16 feet wide, where an African American woman by the name of Catherine Harris lived and sheltered runaway slaves as they made their way north. This was one of only a few stations in the United States run by a “colored person”. The home served later (1881) as the meetinghouse for the A.M.E. Zion Church, (which Harris founded) and its parsonage as well. The structure pictured in a newspaper article of an unknown date shows a greatly enlarged home compared to its original size when Harris provided refuge for the escaped slaves.
What is there now
An empty lot on a quiet residential street is all that remains of this site. We do not know when the house was torn down, but an article in the Jamestown Post-Journal indicates that it was still standing in 1984.
- Born in Pennsylvania in 1809, Harris was Jamestown, NY’s first black citizen when she moved there in 1831. Soon thereafter black families began to settle near the Harris home and whites referred to this part of town as “Africa”.
- Though the original house was only 16 feet wide, Ms. Harris maintained that she could hide 17 slaves at one time in her attic. She provided refuge, medical attention and food.
- Background info and biography
- Obituary and gravestone photo
- Obituary and funeral information
- Exerpt from the book Remarkable Women in New York State History
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