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From: Robert Sullivan <>
Subject: [GEN-NYS] Old photographs sought for local black history research[Montgomery County]
Date: Sat, 11 Feb 2012 08:25:40 -0500

Old photographs sought for local black history research

By Heather Nellis, Recorder News Staff

FONDA -- A picture says a thousand words, so Montgomery County
Historian Kelly Yacobucci Farquhar is asking for any and all pictures
people might be able to share for her ongoing research of the county's
black history.

February is Black History Month, but Farquhar is the first to admit
every month is Black History Month at the county Department of History
& Archives.

She's spent nearly her entire career researching the county's
African-American families, which culminated with the recent
publication of a state-funded report called "Uncovering the
Underground Railroad, Abolitionism and African American life in
Montgomery County, New York, 1820 to 1890."

It's part of her attempt to turn local traditions and historical
stories into fact by discovering and collecting documentation from
newspapers, property deeds, diaries, objects, census records and other
sources from the time period.

On the heels of finishing the report, which is available at the Old
County Courthouse in Fonda, Farquhar has been thinking of ways she can
add depth to her research, which hasn't stopped just because the
report was printed.

Though they're probably more scarce than the rare documented hints of
the county's ties to the Underground Railroad and abolition movement,
Farquhar is on the hunt for pictures of African Americans who lived in
the county in the 19th century.

"I'm looking for photographs of people, their old homes that aren't in
existence any more, anything that would enhance the research. It can
add another layer to the story, and tie the pieces together more
tightly," Farquhar said.

Farquhar said she's been working to organize information by family,
and if she had pictures, "it would make things a little more complete
than it has been. It would be nice to show to some of the people who
come in who are looking for their black ancestors."

One photo she's been given is a picture of a black woman Farquhar
believes Evelina Harris, the aunt of Elizabeth Phillips Hoke, who was
married to Chester "Bromley" Hoke of Canajoharie.

Bromley Hoke enlisted during the Civil War in the all-black 54th
Massachusetts Regiment, the subject of the movie, "Glory."

Farquhar said she knows Harris was born in the town of Glen in 1790,
and "in all probability, she was a slave."

In the picture, Harris, who Farquhar described as "older" looking, is
posed with a white couple, for whom Farquhar guesses Harris was
working as a housekeeper. Harris moved on to live in Saratoga Springs
and then to New Jersey, where she died.

In addition to the Hoke family ties to Canajoharie, Farquhar said she
knows at least two other black families lived on Cliff Street and
Mohawk Street.

"The houses aren't there anymore, but we know they lived there based
on deeds and other documents," Farquhar said. "I would love it if we
could find an old picture of the streets so I could see what the area
used to look like."

Farquhar can be contacted at 853-8187, at the department office in the
Old County Courthouse on Park Street in Fonda.

Bob Sullivan
Schenectady Digital History Archive
Schenectady County (NY) Public Library

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