Lake Ontario Lecture Series highlights UGRR June 11

The Oswego Public Library was founded in 1853 by famed abolitionist Gerrit Smith who stipulated that it “shut out no person on account of their race, completion or condition.” Built in the style of Norman castles of that time, the library will be featured in “Underground Railroad Connections to Lake Ontario,” part of the 2022 Lake Ontario Lecture Series. Organized by the local advisory council for the proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary, the event runs from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 in Pultneyville. It is free and open to the public in-person or virtually. For a list of speakers and details, or to register, go to

OSWEGO COUNTY – Dive into history with the 2022 Lake Ontario Lecture Series. The next program runs from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at Gates Hall, 4107 Lake Rd., Pultneyville.

Learn about “Underground Railroad (UGRR) Connections to Lake Ontario” with a panel of historical experts from around the Great Lake. The event is organized by the local advisory council for the proposed Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary.

Anyone interested can attend in-person or join virtually. Go to to register for in-person or virtual attendance. The event is free to the public and light refreshments will be available.

Featured speakers include:

Sue-Jane Evans, a long-time resident of Wayne County and an active volunteer with the Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society, will talk about the local abolition movement. Her presentation features Captain Horatio Nelson Throop and other highlights of the UGRR network in Wayne County.

Author and former Wayne County Historian Marjory Allen Perez will speak about the Maxwell Settlement, an African American community located on the outskirts of Sodus Point. Established in 1815 by former slaves, the community was ideally situated to assist and protect other freedom-seekers on their journey.

Edward Elsner is the interim director of the Oswego Public Library. His presentation focuses on the origins of the library, thanks to noted abolitionist Gerrit Smith. Founded in 1853, it was his largest single gift and is now the oldest public library in the country that is still in its original building. One of the stipulations of Smith’s donation was that it “shut out no person on account of their race, complexion or condition.”

Deputy Mayor of the village of Mexico Jim Hotchkiss and long-time educator Allie Proud are both officers of the Mexico Historical Society. Instrumental in the opening of the Starr Clark Tin Shop and Underground Railroad Museum in Mexico, the two will join forces once again to present the history of the town and village of Mexico, in relation to the UGRR. Mexico was a major center of abolitionist activity where many well-documents flights to freedom were planned and carried out.

The local Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council is a 15-member panel established to assist the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in guiding the proposed sanctuary through the designation process. NOAA oversees the national marine sanctuary (NMS) system.

The proposed Lake Ontario NMS would encompass more than 1,700 square miles in eastern Lake Ontario. It will protect and showcase dozens of shipwrecks and other historically significant underwater assets. NOAA announced its intent to designate the marine sanctuary in April 2019, and in mid-2021 released draft documents related to the proposed sanctuary. For more information on the proposed Lake Ontario NMS, visit

For more information about the lecture series, contact the Oswego County Tourism Office at 315-349-8322 or Lake Ontario NMS Advisory Council Vice Chair Katie Malinowski at

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