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.
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.
Tinsmiths were very popular craftsmen because they made many of the items used in homes and farms. Lanterns, candle safes, candle holders, stove pipes, buckets, pots, pans and many other articles could be made quickly and economically from tin. These products were longer lasting than similar ones made from pewter or wood. Tin ware was the most popular item carried by Yankee peddlers for over 150 years. A good tinsmith could make a tin pan in 15 to 20 minutes.
Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Rail Road Museum
Starr Clark Tin Shop
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
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.
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.
Mexico Historical Society
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 | email@example.com
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.