Sojourner Truth, the firebrand abolitionist and suffragist, has been claimed as a hometown heroine by many local communities where she spent her early years. She was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree in what is now called Rifton, but was considered part of Hurley in 1797. She was later sold to serve a family in what is now West Park, but was then called New Paltz Landing. Another of her owners put her to work in a tavern in the Esopus hamlet now known as Port Ewen. She fought to reclaim ownership of one of her sons at the Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston.
Soon she’ll be taking an honored place along with fellow Women’s Suffrage foremothers Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Alice Paul on the back of the new US $10 bill. But in the meantime, it seems like every burg in central or southern Ulster County wants its fair share of Truth pride. Some would say that the recognition of this major historical figure, along with the grim role of slavery in our region’s history, is long, long overdue.
Want to know more about the life, trials and achievements of Sojourner Truth beyond her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech? Come to the Bevier House Museum at 2682 Route 209 in Marbletown this Sunday, May 15 at 3 p.m. The Ulster County Historical Society (UCHS) will present former Ulster County historian Anne Gordon delivering a lecture titled “Native Daughter: The Life of Sojourner Truth in Ulster County.” This is the latest in an ongoing series of UCHS events with the theme of “Celebrating Women in History,” to commemorate the 2017 centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State.
Admission to the talk is free for UCHS members, $7 for the general public, $5 for students, seniors and members of the military. For more information, visit www.ulstercountyhs.org.