Underground Railroad Agents in Erie County

Detail of map by Wilbur H. Siebert for The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom. Many thanks to OhioMemory.org for digitizing the full map. Elbert Wixom Cook drew a similar map in 1903.

These names were originally compiled by Christopher Densmore with additions by the author of this website. Where did he find them?

Lists like this are never entirely comprehensive or reliable, because some authors who claim people for the UGRR, sometimes decades after the fact, do not cite any sources from the period. When encountering claims about the Underground Railroad, always evaluate what evidence, if any, the author provides.

Of these individuals, at least four of them: William Wells Brown, Phoenix Lansing, Samuel Murray, and George Weir, Jr., were African-American. My guess is that there were many other Black Buffalonians who assisted freedom seekers but their names were not recorded.

Modern audiences often conflate abolitionism, Quakerism, and Underground Railroad activity, assuming that anyone who advocated for abolition was also an Underground Railroad agent. Or that anyone who was Quaker was also an Underground Railroad agent. It seems possible that many who supported abolition might never have had the opportunity to assist anyone feeling from slavery.

Some who did assist, like the anonymous boatmen who piloted the Black Rock Ferry back and forth to Canada, thus delivering fugitives to freedom, were doing their jobs and may never have joined organized efforts to assist freedom seekers.

Aldrich, SidneyClarenceSiebert, p. 414
Baker, BenjaminEast Hamburgh/
Orchard Park
Graf, p. 76
Merrill, p. 106
Baker, ObadiahPotter’s Corners, in what is now Orchard ParkMerrill, p. 100
Barker, GideonWalesSiebert, p. 414
Brown, William WellsBuffaloGraf, p. 80
Merrill, p. 106
Butler, MorrisBuffaloSeibert, p. 195
Graf, p. 78-79
Merrill, p. 105
Dodge, CheesmanBuffaloGraf, p. 76
Dodge, HamptonBuffaloMerrill, p. 105
E—, [unknown] (Deacon)SpringvillePettit, p. 70-71
Fosdick, John SpencerBuffaloGraf, p. 78
Friend Andrew (Quaker)Evans?Pettit, pp. 14, 17, 94
Hathaway, [unknown]CollinsPettit, p. 46
Phalen, p. 87
Haywood, WilliamSiebert, p. 414
Hill, RoswellEdenMerrill, p. 99
Jonson, George W.BuffaloSiebert, p. 414
Lansing, PhoenixBuffaloWeir
Love, Thomas C.BuffaloGraf, p. 77
Matteson, H.H.BuffaloPicquet, p. 43
Maxwell, JohnBuffaloMerrill, p. 105
Moore, Deacon Henry AuroraSiebert, p. 414
Murray, SamuelBuffaloGraf, p. 79
Merrill, p. 106
Severance, p. 242
Orr, AbnerHollandMerrill, p. 99
Orton, Samuel G., Rev.BuffaloSeverance, p. 189
R—-,T—-, Esq.BuffaloWeir
Webster, Mary WillisTown LineMerrill, p. 100
Phalen, p. 97
Weir, George, Jr.BuffaloWeir
Wilkes, JohnRice Corners, SardiniaMerrill, p. 99
Williams, [unknown]Siebert, p. 414
Ziegler, [possibly William?]Black RockMerrill, p. 106
Zimmer, CarlBuffaloGraf, p. 79
SourceFull Citation
DrewDrew, Benjamin
A North-side View of Slavery
Boston, MA: John P. Jewett, 1856
GrafGraf, Hildegarde.
Abolition and Anti-Slavery in Buffalo and Erie County
Buffalo, NY: Thesis, University of Buffalo, May 1939
MerrillMerrill, Arch.
The Underground, Freedom’s Road and Other Upstate Trails.
New York: American Book-Stratford, 1963
PettitPettit, Eber M.
Sketches in the History of the Underground Railroad
Fredonia, NY: McKinstry & Son, 1879
PhalenPhalen, Helene C.
And Why Not Every Man? An account of slavery, the  Underground Railroad, and the road to freedom in New York’s  Southern Tier.
Almond, NY: Helene Phalen, 1987
PicquetPicquet, Louise
Louise Picquet, the Octaroon
New York: The author, 1861
SeveranceSeverence, Frank H.
Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier
Cleveland, OH: Burrows Brothers, 1903
SiebertSiebert, Wilbur.
The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom.
New York: Macmillan, 1898
WeirWeir, George.
Still they come: Underground Railroad in Active Operation.
Frederick Douglass’s Paper, December 11, 1854

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