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The Tin Smith Bench in the Starr Clark Tin Shop is the original used by Starr Clark. The bench was discovered at the former Hart and Stone Store in Mexico and was donated to the Historical Society by Pam and Brian Roach.
Slavery Society, correspondence with other abolitionists, the published account of the fugitive "George", obituaries, and accounts written by direct descendants.
Clark was born in Massachusetts in 1793, but spent his youth in New York as well as New England. In 1815 he married Harriet Loomis from Verona, NY, and in Danby they experienced a religious conversion affecting the rest of their lives. They had eight children, and their last son born in 1831 was named for Theodore Weld later one of the best known abolitionist orators in the country. In Mexico Starr Clark managed a store with which he was given use of the adjoining house and garden. He became treasurer for the county in 1840. In addition to business, Starr contributed money for the Mexico Academy and served on its Board of Trustees. Starr Clark died in 1866 and his wife Harriet in 1873.The Starr Clark Tin Shop is located at 3250 Main Street, Mexico, New York. Tours by appointment by calling (315) 963-7853.
May 15, 2002 Starr Clark Tin Shop is Listed on National Register of Historic Places The former STARR CLARK tin shop in the village of Mexico was a focal point of abolitionist activity in Oswego County. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the years before the Civil War, many Oswego County residents provided assistance to African-American slaves escaping bondage in the southern states by hiding them in their homes or helping them find transportation to Canada. These activities have become known as the Underground Railroad. The Oswego County Freedom Trail Commission was formed by the Oswego County Legislature to coordinate surveys of Underground Railroad sites and submit nominations for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. The former Starr Clark tin shop, located on Main Street in Mexico where Routes 69 and 104 intersect, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in December. “The Starr Clark tin shop was high on our nomination priority list,” said Barbara Dix, Oswego County Historian and chairwoman of the Oswego County Freedom Trail Commission. Starr Clark, an outspoken abolitionist and member of the Whig party, was born in Massachusetts in August 1793. In 1832, Starr and his wife Harriet moved to the village of Mexico and managed the mercantile and tin shop on Main Street. Clark was an active abolitionist and regularly attended anti-slavery meetings. He signed the first anti-slavery petition from Oswego County in 1835. The shop eventually became a focal point of abolitionist activity and the Underground Railroad in Central New York. “Though Clark was outspoken about abolitionism, he was not vocal about his role in the Underground Railroad. Linking people to their activities in the Underground Railroad was difficult due to its secret nature,” said Dr. Judith Wellman, professor emerita of history, Oswego State University, and member of the Oswego County Freedom Trail Commission. “Clark can be placed in the company of Underground Railroad activists. We know that as a member of the Mexico vigilance committee, an organized network of abolitionists, he actively assisted fugitives.” “Being listed on the National Register provides some protection for the property and recognizes the importance of these properties to the history of our country,” said Dix.
Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum
Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum is completely renovated and open to the public. Here David McLean is demonstrating tinsmith tecniques to some visitors.
When Clark died in 1866, the Rev. M. D. Kinney wrote Clark's eulogy: "Starr Clark had but one fundamental article in his political faith, and that was ... impartial justice to all men, without regard to condition or color. For a quarter of a century, during that long and dark period when the colored man had no friends ... and few that dared to be (open) he knew that in Mexico there was at least one man who had for him an open hand, an open purse, and (an) open house."
Construction and renovation work has begun to shore up the foundation and make the building secure, said James Hotchkiss, a member of the Mexico Historical Society's board of trustees. "They're working on the whole interior, the foundation, ceiling, wiring, plumbing, heating and walls.," he said. "Once its all done we'll put the exhibits in it."
Sandra Scott, anaother historical society trustee, said the idea is to make the shop look the same as when Starr Clark was making tin goods there. "We're even going to put in a little tin shop with local tinsmith David McLean in Scriba helping make it authentic," she said.
The Starr Clark Tin Shop was the property of Starr Clark and his wife, Harriet Loomis Clark. They were abolitionists and Underground Railroad activists in the Village of Mexico, from late 1832 until the Civil War. The Clarks welcomed freedom seekers, provided housing for them either in the Starr Tin Shop, their own home, or in the homes of other antislavery families, arranged schedules for forwarding "the goods", and provided transportation to the next station. The Starr Clark Tin Shop, neighboring the Clark residence, is a two-story wood-framed vernacular building built about 1827 with Federal details. It is located in the center of the village along three major transportation routes, making it valuable for Underground Railroad activities.
From his arrival in Mexico in 1832 until his death in 1866, Starr Cark (1793-1866) helped make Mexico one of the most active abolitionist and Underground Railroad centers in central New York. From his home and adjoining store in the Tin Shop, Clark helped to organize Mexico's first antislavery society. In 1835 he wrote the first antislavery petition sent from Mexico. In 1838, he was a member of the Mexico Vigilance Committee, and in one case, well-documented in the newspaper The Friend of Man, assisted a runaway named George to go to Canada. Through the 1840s and 1850s, he worked to strengthen the anti-slavery wing of the Whig party, and continued to sign antislavery petitions. When a free black man, James Watkins Seward, was imprisoned in New Orleans, Clark wrote to the New York Governor pleading with him to contact the Governor of Louisiana to demand the man's release. Evidence to support the Clarks' anti-slavery position is found in signed petitions, minutes of the Oswego County Anti-
The tin shop, on Main Street (Route 104) in the heart of the village, saw many reincarnations over the years. But today, thanks to some state money and fortitude by the Mexico Historical Society, it is on its way to becoming a museum to mark Mexicos importance along the Underground Railroad.
Photo ID: L-R: Jim Hotchkiss, Joe Maryack, Marie Hartwell, Allie Proud, Kenvyn Richards.
Shop in Mexico, N.Y., hid slaves and found a place in history Posted Feb 01, 2005
By Mike McAndrew | firstname.lastname@example.org
A former tin shop on the village of Mexico's Main Street could soon become one of the few Underground Railroad stations in New York that is open to the public.
To arrange a tour of the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum call Jim at 315-963-7853 or email email@example.com