Jermain Wesley Loguen
Jermain Wesley Loguen was born February 5, 1813 into slavery in Tennesee. His mother was a slave, his father owned her. Loguen escaped in 1834 to St. Catherine's Ontario. After spending a few years in Canada, he moved to Rochester in 1837 before he enrolled in Beriah Green's Oneida Institute. In 1840, he married Caroline Storum of Bustin, New York. Loguen moved to Syracuse shortly afterwards, but he spent three of the next few years at Bath and two in Ithaca, as an AME Zion minister. Caroline may not have moved to Syracuse until 1847 or 1848, when Jermain Loguen bought property at the corner of East Genesee and Pine Streets.
In 1848, Loguen purchased about one-half acre
of land on the north side of the Genesee Turnpike at the corner
of Pine Street for $800 from Joseph and Sarah Chapman on Block
224, Lot 1, "excepting and reserving thereout a piece at
the southeast corner of forty feet wide on the Turnpike road,
and fifty feet wide of the same width on which the school house
was built." Loguen was active as a school teacher, and he
may have purchased the property next to the school house to promote
his educational work.
Probably, a house already existed on this property, since the price was relatively high. At some point, the Loguens added an apartment for freedom seekers. An obituary for Sarah Loguen Fraser noted that this home "was a station on the 'underground railroad,' and the basement was fitted with bunks and other equipment for care of runaway slaves." In 1860, Loguen was assessed $1500 for a lot on this corner, 108 feet x 150 feet, with house and barn, Most houses in the neighborhood at the time were assessed for $300-$400, so the Loguens' home was substantially larger than many of the surrounding houses. Jermain Loguen sold this lot in 1870 to H.W. Clarke.
Jermain Loguen noted in his autobiography that he was not dependent on his work as a teacher and minister to support his family." He drew his own money from the bank," he wrote, "and bought him a house and lot, and became, and has continued, a freeholder and tax paying citizen. Real estate rose in value in his hands, and by industry and care, his early investments made him not rich, but in good credit." Perhaps he was using money brought into their family by Caroline Storum Loguen.
In fact, he seems to have been a land speculator, as well, as suggested by the deeds. Between 1848 and 1870, Loguen purchased at least thirteen properties in Syracuse. He sold most of them, some of them to other African Americans. Only one of these properties may possibly be extant, the building on the northwest corner of Walnut and East Fayette. Loguen owned three lots on this corner. Is it possible that this building combines two of the buildings that stood on this corner? (See attached list of properties that Loguen acquired and map of locations.)
In 1855, the couple had six living children
at home, Latiecha, aged 13; Amelia, aged 12; Garret, aged 7; Marinda,
aged 5; William, aged 3; and Mary, aged 1. Corydon Williams, a
forty-six-year-old African American painter from New York lived
with them, as did Catharine Williams, twenty, born in New England,
and Maranda Storum, Caroline's sister, thirty-six years old.
Loguen became a school teacher, an AME Zion minister and later bishop, an abolitionist lecturer, and chief agent of the underground railroad in Syracuse. As Stationmaster of the Underground Railroad in Syracuse, Loguen published in the local newspapers his calls for aid to fugitives from slavery, as well as an account of how he spent the money received. In 1851 along with Unitarian minsiter Sam May, Loguen helped to arrange Jerry Henry to escape. But Loguen was indicted for his part in the Jerry rescue. He fled to Canada as well, but later returned.
While most of these people remain unidentified, a few specific examples have been recorded. On Christmas Eve, 1855, six freedom seekers left Oak Hill plantation in Loudon County, Virginia. Two of them were captured, but the remaining four (Barnabas and Mary Elizabeth Grigby, Frank Wanzer, and Emily Foster) confronted their pursuers with guns and managed to escape across the Maryland-Pennsylvania line to freedom. William Still, who kept the main underground railroad station in Pennsylvania, bought them tickets on the train to Syracuse, New York, where Rev. Loguen officiated at the wedding of Frank Wanzer and Emily Foster. All four went to Auburn, Rochester, and St. Catherine's, Ontario.
His was reported to be the most openly operated station in the state, if not the country. As Milton Sernett noted in North Star Country, Syracuse became known as "the great central depot" of the underground railroad in New York State, the "Canada of the North," and Loguen was called the "Underground Railroad King." It is estimated that about 1500 fugitive slaves passed through his home on their way to freedom. He told his amazing and inspirational story in his autobiography, The Rev. J.W. Loguen as a Slave and as a Freeman, published in Syracuse in 1859.
Jermain W. Lougen died in 1872.
In 1869, Amelia Loguen married Lewis Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, in the Loguens' home.
Marinda S. Loguen, later called Sarah, graduated from the Syracuse University College of Medicine in 1876, one of the first African American women in the country to become a doctor. After working Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C., she went to Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo, where she married Charles A. Fraser and lived until 1897. She returned to Syracuse and bought a house on Westcott Street, where she lived for four years. She died in June 1933. (Post-Standard, June 14, 1933)
Gerrit Smith Loguen became an artist. Mary Loguen married James Cromwell, a Syracuse barber.)
- captives; Loguen;
additional references: New York Daily Tribune, 1 October 1872; San Francisco Elevator, 5 October 1872; Benjamin Quarles, Allies for Freedom: Blacks and John Brown (New York, 1974), 39-44, 65-66, 73-75; idem, Black Abolitionists, 66-67, 154, 188; DAB, 11:368-69.
Back to African American History of Western New York 1830 to 1865.