~~~  Black Heritage in Fulton County  ~~~

By Mrs. Audrey Laird, Mrs. Audrey Bowman

This piece is generously donated by James Morrison, City of Gloversville Historian.  Mr. Morrison assisted with the following research.  Nationally, our society is celebrating February as "Black History Month".  Not only is this piece appropriate for the celebration and a wonderful historical piece not often discussed, but hopefully it helps many in finding their ancestors as well.

This booklet on black heritage in Fulton County was made possible by a grant from the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution.  The topic of black history was chosen as the City of Gloversville's contribution to the 1989 Bicentennial celebration of the Bill of Rights in the U. S. Constitution.   Special emphasis will be placed on the 15th Amendment, allowing the right to vote regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Special recognition for the booklet goes to Lewis G. Decker, Fulton County Historian, James Morrison, who researched many records, Mrs. Audrey Laird and Mrs. Audrey Bowman who compiled information and wrote this booklet.

Historical Background of Blacks in Fulton County

In its earliest years the settlers clustered around Fort Orange (now Albany), but in 1661 the industrious Dutchmen had pushed the frontier twenty miles westward and founded the city of Schenectady.  The part that Negroes (blacks) played in this initial settlement of the Mohawk Valley is unrecorded, but it is not inconceivable that they contributed, for thirty years later Blacks make their first documented appearance in the Mohawk Valley.

Schenectady was a bustling little town of over forty houses in 1690, most of the inhabitants were engaged in fur trading with the Iroquois and Canadian Indians.  Although King Williams' War was raging around them, the people of Schenectady felt fairly secure within the stockade that they had erected around the village.  At 11:00 p.m. on the February 9th, one hundred and fourteen French and ninety-six Indians shattered their security1.  They murdered 60 persons, and stole away with 27 prisoners.  A list of casualties in this attack indicates that ten of the fatalities and five of the prisoners were "Negroes".2  The fact that 12% of the blood shed in the massacre at Schenectady was from Black men and women foreshadows the role that Black pioneers were to play in the development of the New York State frontier.

By 1771, the year before Tyron County was separated from Albany County, Black population was again on the rise.  In that year Afro-Americans accounted for about 9% of the population of Albany County.  An impending Revolution and growing abolitionist sentiment frequent manumissions was used as an incentive for Blacks to join the patriot army, and the large number of slave holder-loyalists, such as the son of Sir Wm. - Sir John Johnson, who were forced into exile by the war all took a toll on the Black population in the Mohawk Valley.

The census of 1800 indicates an interesting pattern in Montgomery County.  The well established towns of Palatine, Canajoharie and Johnstown which were primarily composed of Dutch and German ethnic stock accounted for 381 slaves.  On the other hand, the towns of Northampton, Broadalbin and Mayfield, which were heavily populated by recent New England immigrants, could account for only 76 slaves3.  The  Dutch and Germans on the New York frontier therefore utilized slave labor more extensively than northern Anglo-Americans.

In 1799 Governor Jay signed a bill which provided for the gradual abolition of slavery in the state, and from that year forward the Black population of the Mohawk Valley decreased annually.4   In 1830 - two years after emancipation - Blacks represented only a 2% segment of the combined population of Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady, Fulton and Herkimer Counties.5

Shortly after the first settlers reached the Mohawk Valley, the liberal Dutch government was replaced by a new English establishment:  In 1664 New Netherlands became New York City.6  Under the Dutch, slaves had been allowed to purchase their freedom and manumission was a fairly common occurrence.  Dutch society also featured an element of color-blindness, for free Blacks enjoyed the same privileges as free Whites.  Under English rule these liberal concepts soon disappeared.  The English made blackness a prerequisite to slavery, and legal action was taken to insure the permanence of the institution.7

In 1702 the provincial assembly passed "An Act for Regulating Slaves".8  More than sixty years passed, when Ann Grant, an English "lady", visited Albany and later recorded her observations of the conditions under which slaves lived.  Mrs. Grant's definition of humane treatment is certainly interesting, but the fact remains that the Dutch and German people were considerably more liberal with their slaves than the English.  One Albanian complained to a friend about the plight that his liberalism had imposed upon him.

Sir William Johnson, for which the town Johnstown is named, probably was the largest 18th century slave-holder in the Mohawk Valley.  He used the west blockhouse at Johnson Hall to quarter his slaves.  Upon Sir William's death, an inventory of the articles in the slave's quarters was taken.9  The following is the entire contents found:  1 pair of plain hand irons & 1 shovel; 2 iron bound pails, 1 brass  kettle, 12 pewter plates, 2 dishes, 1 basin, 1 pine table, 10 old blankets.10  Certainly this list says a lot about the frugal life that these Black slaves lived.

The 1800 census for the town of Palatine gives us some insight as to what the slaves were used for.  It's revealed in papers from the Old Palatine Church that slaves were employed as domestic servants in hotels and stage houses, industrial laborers in grist mills, and employed in agriculture on farms.11  In fact, Black labor was probably used for almost any task imaginable.  Black  labor does not necessarily imply slave labor, for as early as 1738, there are references to free Negroes living in the Mohawk Valley.12

Often it's asked what happened to the slaves or Blacks living in our area in the 18th century.  In the Johnson Papers, it's told that in the early years of the 18th century the Iroquois and many other north-eastern Indian tribes received runaway slaves with a warm welcome.  Life with the Indians must have been more pleasant that the work-a-day life with a white master, for many slaves took advantage of the opportunity.13  Government pressure eventually forced the Indians to accept the White man's discrimination against Black men, for in 1774, the Oneidas granted some land to the New England Indians, but stipulated that the rights would not extend to any persons "deemed of the said Tribe, who are descended from or have intermixed with Negroes, or Mulatoes."14  White men gained control of the Indians, but they still could ot stop the slaves from running away.  Rewards for runaway slaves were a daily occurrence in the Albany newspapers throughout the 1790's.15

The abolition of slavery in N. Y. S. did not happen at once, but was a gradual process occurring over a period of 35 years.  Even before the Revolution there were provisions for the voluntary freeing of a slave by his or her owner to post a bond insuring the freed slaves would not require the support of the community.  For most slave owners, the bond was prohibitive and few slaves were actually freed under these provisions.

More or less then on July 27, 1827 emancipation became final in New York State.  Many former slaves continued to live with and worked for the families who had owned them, particularly older slaves who had no families other than the ones for whom they had worked all their lives.  The slaves on paper were free, but the old white attitudes remained unchanged.

One of the earliest census of Fulton County was in 1865.  The names listed are those blacks living in the various towns that then were a part of Fulton County.  After 1925, the state census records were closed to public research.  All information after that date was obtained through city directories.  City directories do not list names until age 18.  Names appear when they first appeared in directories.


Town of Caroga; 1865
Bowman, Charles, farmer
Bowman, Margaret A.
Bowman, Walter
Bowman, Susan
Bowman, George
Bowman, Isaac
King, Amos, laborer (*Soldier)
King, Maria
Leonard, Charles H. (*Soldier)
Leonard, George (*Soldier)
Leonard, Philip, farmer
Leonard, Caroline
Leonard, Caroline, child
Leonard, Abram
Leonard, John
Millett, Peter, farmer
Millett, Sylvia
Millett, Thomas E. (*Soldier)
Millett, Mary
Parker, James E.
Parker, Josephine

Town of Broadalbin; 1865
Teabout, John
Teabout, Joseph (*Soldier)
Teabout, James (*Soldier)
Teabout, Frances
Teabout, Lydia
Teabout, Hannah H.
Thompson, Thomas A., laborer
Thompson, Angeline
Thompson, Catherine
Thompson, Grace H.
Thompson, William
Thompson, Mary H.

Town of Johnstown; 1865
Anderson, Bruce
Bakeman, Lorenza, laborer (Changed name to Beekman in later years)
Bakeman, Harriet
Bakeman, Ann L.
Bakeman, Benjamin H.
Bakeman, Calvin
Bowman, George W.
Blood, Pita
Case, Julius, laborer
Case, Mary E.
Case, Charles A.
Case, Hester P.
Darrow, Julia
Estep, Richard
Estep, Maria
Ferris, Bessy
Fitch, Henry A., laborer
Fitch, Laurie
Fitch, Milo
Fitch, Caroline
Fitch, Martha
Fitch, MaryAnn
Fitch, Lawry
Frank, John  (*Soldier)
Gordineer, Charles, laborer
Gordineer, Hester
Gordineer, Alfred
Gordineer, Betsey (Mother In Law of James Thompson)
Grant, Andrew, laborer
Grant, Ellen
Grant, William
Grant, Sarah
Grant, Charles H. (*Soldier)
Grant, Josephine
Grant, Edward
Grant, Sarah J.
Hawkins, Carolina
Hawkins, Joanna
Hawkins, Harriet
Hawkins, Carolina
Hawkins, Emma
Jackson, Prince F., laborer
Jackson, Diana
Jackson, John H.
Jackson, Katy age 70 (Poor House)
Jackson, Diana
Jackson, Frances
Jackson, Ann E.
Jackson, James
Jackson, Francis
Jameson, John, laborer
Jameson, Jane
Kittle, Leonard, laborer  (*Soldier)
Kittle, Catherine
Kittle, Mary C.

Town of Johnstown; 1865 (con't)
Leggins, Charles, laborer (*Soldier)
Leggins, Hannah H.
Leggins, Thomas G.
Leggins, Charles H.
Leggins, Robert F.
Leggins, Gertrude
Leggins, George E.
Leggins, Sarah E.
Leggins, Janet
Leggins, Henry, laborer
Leggins, Fanny
Leggins, Nancy
Leggins, William H.  (*Soldier)
Leggins, Charles
McKinney, Luther, laborer (*Soldier)
McKinney, Adelia
McKinney, James M.
McKinney, Richard
McKinney, John H.
McKinney, Margaret A.
McKinney, Mary A.
McKinney, Isabella
Mentis, Thomas, laborer
Millford, John (Granchild of James Thompson)
Moore, Catherine
Nifer, Cuff, farm worker
Nifer, Emily
Robinson, Nelson, driver
Robinson, Margaret
Robinson, Margaret E., child
Robinson, Francis H.
Robinson, Elizabeth (with Bakeman)
Smith, Mary Ann
Smith, Elizabeth
Smith, William
Smith, James
Smith, Henry  (*Soldier)
Smith, Susan
Smith, Juliette
Snell, Nellie, age 98 (Poor House)
Thompson, Mary A. age 30 (Poor House)
Thompson, James, barber (*Soldier)
Thompson, Martha
Thompson, Frank
Thompson, Kitty
Thompson, Antoine (*Soldier)
Thompson, James
VanDeusen, Dianna
VanDeusen, Mary I.
VanDeusen, Sidney
VanDeusen, Mary
VanDeusen, Simeon
Wendell, David, laborer
Wendell, Sarah J.

Town of Ephratah; 1865
Madison, Henry
Madison, Frances
Thompson, Richard, laborer
Yamson, Matthew
Yamson, Susan

Town of Oppenheim; 1865
Grant, Charles (*Soldier)
Grant, Mary
Grant, Eliza
 Vrooman, James, farmer
Vrooman, Sarah
Vrooman, Wellington
Vrooman, Oren
Vrooman, Charles H.

Anderson, Adelia
Anderson, Ambrose
Anderson, Archibald
Anderson, Bruce
Leggins, Arthur
Leggins, Charles H.
Leggins, George
Leggins, Hannah
Leggins, Harvey
Leggins, Wm. H.

Leggins, Arch

A. M. E. Zion Church founded at E. Fulton & Chestnut Street

Ray, William, moved to Gloversville

Anderson, Emma L.

Thompson, Squire in Gloversville

Thompson, James
Thompson, Thomas
Woodley, Fletcher

Thompson, Fred
Thompson, Sarah C.
Thompson, Catherine
Bowman, Walter
Bowman, Elmer

Thompson, Frank
Thompson, William

Leggins, Jennie
Leggins, John
Leggins, Katherine
Leggins, Thomas
Leggins, Mrs. William
Leggins, Harry
Thompson, George
Thompson, John
Thompson, Adolphus
Thompson, Nellie
Thompson, Louie

Leggins, Rita
Leonard, George
Leonard, Joseph
Leonard, Joseph W.
Thompson, Bessie
Thompson, Lena
Thompson, William

Anderson, Bruce
Ray, Mrs. Eliza (residing with son William J.)

Adams, Sylvester
Adams, Maggie
Anderson, Mary
Anderson, Hattie G.
Anderson, Hazel
Anderson, George (Reddean)
Anderson, Lincoln (Reddean)
Archer, Nellie w.
Archer, Fred w.
Archer, Hanah w.
Archer, Gertrude w.
Bagley, Benjamin
Bakeman, Henry (Beekman)
Beekman, Ethel
Beekman, Alrenis H.
Beekman, Ben
Beekman, Thomas
Black, Walter
Boford, John
Bowman, Clara
Bowman, Hazel
Case, Chauncey
Causon, Samuel
Causon, Agusta
Causon, Elizabeth A.
Corliss, George
Corliss, Nellie
Dana, Albert
Dana, Cora
Dana, Harry
Dana, Hattie
Davenport, William
Dawson, William K.
Dawson, Emma
Dawson, William
Dawson, Charles G.
Dence, Reuben W.
Dence, Ann
Derrick, Harriet
Derrick, William
Duglass, Emily
Ennett, Emily
Fair, Maggie
Frank, Leorenzo
Frank, Margaret
Frank, Anna
Frank, Jessie L.
Frank, Howard
Frank, Louise
Frank, Harriet
Frank, Clarie
Frank, Ellen
Freeman, Hattie
Gardiner, Leonard
Gilbert, Georgia
Goines, Jay
Goines, Pearl
Goines, Thelma
Green, Elizabeth
Green, Charles
Green, Lena
Hamilton, Edith
Hamilton, Herbert
Hamilton Richard
Hamilton, Mary
Harrington, Scott
Hasbrouck, Harriet
Hasbrouck, Hazel
Hasbrouck, Ray
Herring, Clarasi
Herring, Durrey
Herring, Sussie
Herring, Suney
Hill, James
Husband, Josephine
Jackson, Olla
Jackson, Mary
Jackson, Cerliss
Jackson, Marion
Jackson, Leslie W.
Kenney, James
Kenney, Gertrude
Kniffer, John
Kniffer, Mary
Leggins, Betty
Leggins, Cassie
Leggins, Sara
Leonard, Maude
Lewis, Ervin
Makie, Raymond
McKenney, John
McKenney, Emma
McKinney, John
McKinney, Mammie
McKinney, Richard
McKinney, Lizzie
Miller, John
Miller, Blandena
Miller, Jessie W.
Miller, Eva
Miller, Theo
Moore, Homer
Mosher, Elizabeth
Nichols, Harrison
Nero, Albert
Nero, Mary
Peck, Ernest
Powers, Mary
Shan, Margaret
Shaw, Roscoe
Shaw, Nellie
Shaw, Clarence
Shaw, Edna
Simmons, George (Gaye)
Simmons, Lawrence
Simmons, Lee Roy
Slaughter, William
Slaughter, Sarah
Smith, Henry
Smith, Susan
Thompson, Rebecca
Trubble, George C.
Trubble, Harriet
Turne, Ada
Turner, Cassie
VanSlyke, Morris
VanSlyke, Sarah
VanSlyke, Russell
Veder, Perry
Vrooman, Frank
Vrooman, Clara
Walton, Bertha F.
Waters, Frena
Wealcher, Anna
Whatley, Julia (Mother in Law, with Woodleys)
Wicks, Robert
Wick, Anna
Willard, Mary
Willett, William
Willett, Julia
Williams, Carrie
Williams, Floyd
Wilson, Josephine
Woodley, Myra
Woodley, Helena
Woodley, Harold
Ray, William, laborer
Ray, William J., house cleaner
Jones, William, laborer

Ray, Helena, servant

Beekman, Alice
Woodley, G., glover
Thompson, Thomas, chef
Thompson, Frank, laborer
Thompson, James, hostler
Thompson, Abias
Jones, Charles

Woodley, Flectcher
Thompson, Harry, bootblack
Beekman, Adam- Prof. of Music
Beekman, Benjamin, laborer

Thompson, Carrie

Beekman, Bryron
Beekman, Harry

Beekman, Henry
Beekman, Sherman, baker
Bowman, Sarah

Jones, Catherine
Jones, Jennie

Thompson, Nellie

Bowman, William
Bowman, Jennie
Bowman, Florence M.
Bowman, William Jr.
Bowman, Oliver
Bowman, Sherman
Bowman, George
Bowman, Frank
Bowman, Nellie
Bowman, Walter
Bowman, Beatrice
Bowman, Martha M.
Bowman, Sherman Jr.
Bowman, Dudley H.
Bowman, Raymond A.
Bowman, Annie
Bowman, Bertha E.
Bush, Laurendy
Bush, Henry
Bush, King H.
Cook, Florence
Diggs, Floyd
Evan, Sara
Frank, John
Frank, Emily
Glass, Clifford
Gordineer, William
Gordineer, Anna
Gordineer, George
Gordineer, Geniva
Jones, Charles
Jones, Lavina
Jones, Mildred
Jones, Martha
Jones, Florence
Jones, Catherine L.
Jones, Anna L.
Jones, Jennie G.
Jones, William C.
Leggins, Charles H.
Leggins, Minnie F.
Leggins, Arthur C.
Leggins, Harry
Leggins, Frederica
Leonard, John
Leonard, Barbara
Leonard, Abram
Leonard, Luella
Leonard, Flora
Leonard, Melvin
Leonard, Blanche
Leonard, Harrison A.
Leonard, Curcio
Lovett, William
Matthews, John
Nelson, Jessie
Nelson, Edna E.
Nelson, Dorothy M.
Nelson, Barbara
Nelson, Clyde
Nelson, Nellie
Nelson, John
Nelson, Raymond
Nelson, Coral E.
Nutt, Jerry
Nutt, Frances J.
Thompson, Anna
Thompson, Mary
Thompson, George
Thompson, James
Thompson, Anna L.
Thompson, Vernon
Walrod, Charles
Walrod, Cora M.
Walrod, Mary
Wendell, Frank
Wendell, Sarah E.
Wooding, William

Beekman, Calvin
Bowman, Charles
Bowman, Harry
Bowman, Charlotte
Bowman, Betty
Bowman, Anna
Bowman, Richard
Bowman, Dudley
Bush, Lorenda Ann
Bush, Hattie
Dabney, Mary
Gordineer, Juliana
Jones, David F.
Jones, Glady G.
Jones, Emerson
Jones, Agnes
Millett, Thomas E.
Millett, Margaret
Shell, Glenn
Shell, Alice
Thompson, James H.
Thompson, Anna L.

Beekman, Calvin
Beekman, Leroy

Case, Ada
Case, June
Clay, Jesse
Clay, Estella
Clay, Jesse Jr.
Craig, Herbert
Craig, Sally
Dana, Grace
Eccles, June
Eccles, William
Eccles, Beulah
Eccles, Louise
Eccles, Wella Mae
Erwin, James
Erwin, Olena
Forsythe, Mattie
Harrison, Ida
Harrison, Nicholas
Leggins, Anna
Leggins, Lillian
Leggins, Charles
Leonard, George
Lowery, Viola
Lowery, Walter
Nelson, Aggie
Nelson, Walter
Nelson, Jesse
Nelson, Edna
Nelson, Barbara
Nelson, Dorothy
Nelson, Clyde
Nelson, Edward
Pollard, Thomas
Pollard, Geraldine
Pollard, Mertie
Pollard, Thomas, Jr.
Tate, James
Tate, Mary
Thompson, Rosie
Thompson, Cornelius
Thompson, Howard
Williams, James
Williams, Paul
Williams, Vera
Williams, Malissa
Williams, James Jr.
Williams, Rufus
Williams, Andrew
Williams, Deloris
Williams, Johnson
Williams, Elizabeth
Williams, Pauline
Williams, Eleanor
Williams, Paul Jr.
Wooding, William
Wooding, Irene
Wooding, Kenneth
Woolridge, Mary

Adams, Floyd
Adams, Fred
Anthony, Frank
Anthony, Berdina
Archer, Gert
Beekman, Nettie
Brown, Louisa
Dana, Fannie
Dunkel, William
Dunkel, Delia
Dunkel, Lillian
Dunkel, Harriet
Dunkel, Jennie
Dunkel, Leona May
Dunkel, Catherine
Herring, Classisa
Johnson, Edna
Johnson, Elizabeth
Leggins, William H.
Leggins, Sarah
Laggines, Charlie
Leonard, Joseph
Leonard, Anna
Livingston, Loren
Mandeville, Eugene
Mandeville, Morris
Mandeville, Fannie
Mandeville, Ozella
McKinney, Lizzie
McWalker, George
McWalker, Eva
McWalker, Lawrence
McWalker, Raymond
McWalker, Geneive
McWalker, Florence
Moore, Sandy
Peek, Eva
Peek, Teddy
Peek, Ernest
Peek, Mildred
Reddean, Ernest
Shaw, Harriet
Simmons, Camilla
Simmons, Lillian
Stevens, Bertha
Trubble, Mabel
Williams, Arthur

VanSlyke, Albert
VanSlyke, Ella
VanSlyke, Eugene
VanSlyke, Morris
VanSlyke, William

Days, David
Days, Matilda
Dean, Nellie
Dean, Fred
Dean, Ethel

Thompson, Squire
Thompson, Rosa
Thompson, John
Thompson, Franks
Thompson, Harry
Thompson, Adolphus
Thompson, George
Thompson, Fred
Thompson, Cornelius
Thompson, Mary Ann
Thompson, Howard
Vails Mills
Harrison, Horace
Harrison, Catherine
Harrison, Edgar

VanDusen, Mary

Visit the Old North Bush Cemetery for more information.


1.  Documentary History of the State of New York, Vol. I, p. 308.
2.  Ibid, Vol. I, p. 309-310.
3.  Census of 1800 in Montgomery County, pp. 1-30.
4.  Ottley and Weatherby, Op. cit., p. 45.
5.  Loc. Cit.
6.  A History of Slavery in New York, pp. 59-60.
7.  Ibid, p. 24.
8.  Joel Munsell, Annals of Albany, Vol. 4, pp. 214-215.
9.  Johnson Papers, Vol. 13, p. 651.
10. Ibid, p. 651-652.
11. The Old Palatine Church, p. 7.
12. Johnson Papers, Vol. 13, p. 3.
13. Ibid, Vol. 13, p. 152; Vol. 13 p. 684.
14. Johnson Papers, Vol. 11, p. 165-166.
15. Annals of Albany, Vol. 3, p. 180.


Primary Sources-
Census of 1800 in Montgomery County, St. Johnsville Enterprise and News, 1938.

Flio, A. C. (editor), The Papers of Sir William Johnson.

Munsell, Joel (editor), Annals of Albany, vol. 10, Albany: Joel Munsell, Printer, 1850-59.

O'Callaghan, E. B. (editor), Documentary History of the State of New York, 4 vols., Albany:  Weed, Parsons & Co., 1849-51.

Secondary Sources-
Anonymous, The Old Palatine Church, St. Johnsville:  Enterprise and News, 1938.

McManus, Edgar, A History of Negro Slavery in New York, Syracuse:  Syracuse University Press, 1966.

Ottley, Roi, and Weatherby, J., The Negro in New York, New York:  Praeger, Publishers, 1967.

Return to Fulton County NYGenWeb


Copyright 2000,  Mrs. Audrey Laird, 
Mrs. Audrey Bowman, James Morrsion, Jeanette Shiel
All Rights Reserved.

Last updated Tuesday, 13-May-2008 13:12:31 PDT