The Circle Association's
African American History of western new york state
1865 to 1900







21st century





In 1865 the total African American population of the Town of Lockport had only risen by nine people to 222. There are two categories of occupational entry on the 1865 Lockport census that stand out. They are "FUSA" and "USA". The first stands for "former U.S. Army" while the second simply stands for "U.S. Army" meaning that the person was, in June of 1865, still in the Union Army. Four African American men in the 1865 Town of Lockport census are occupationally marked "USA". They are Ferner C. Dawson (probably Turner C. Dawson), George Seaton, Peter Sanders, and Martin Van Hoosen. To date, we only know that a Turner C. Dawson, credited to the Town of Pendleton, served in place of a John C. Leuthers . (During the Civil War, if a man was drafted but did not want to serve, he could hire a substitute to go in his place.). Both Seaton and Sanders appear on the 1863 draft list for the Town of Lockport but Seaton's 1865 census entry specifically describes him as a "Soldier, USA". Martin Van Hoosen, "colored person - USA", was born in Massachusetts about 1810 according to the census, but had lived in Orleans County prior to 1845 to as late as 1858. [Dickinson]



1866a. Mary Burnett Talbert (1866-1923) was born in Ohio as Mary Burnett. She will be a radical and one of Buffalo's most prominent citizens. For more see Talbert timeline.

1866b. The American Equal Rights Association was formed in 1866 as a coalition between woman's rights and anti-slavery organizations. Its purpose was the agitate for suffrage for former slaves and women. It soon became apparent that many abolitionists felt that the demand for woman's suffrage would harm the chances for black suffrage, and they considered this the "Negro's hour," not woman's. In 1869, Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony founded the National American Woman Suffrage Association to work solely the enfranchisement of women. For more see Upstate Women's Rights Movement.


1867a. Moxley vs. The Buffalo School Board: The Fourteenth Amendment said, "no state can deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Henry Moxley leading a group of Black parents appeared before the School Committee of the Buffalo Common Council to argue that the segregated Vine Street African School violated their rights. Blacks should be allowed to send their children to the other schools on Buffalo's East side (District 32). When the Council ignored their plea, Moxley and the others enrolled 18 of their children in two other East Side schools.

The Buffalo Common Council had the children sent back to the Vine Street African School and Moxley and the parents sued the Superintendant and the School Committee of the Common Council. The suite was thrown out of court. The school struggled continued until.

1867b. Collins Center attracted many attorneys in during the late 19th century through the early 20th century. Few, however, left the mark on the people and history, as did African American Orra L. C. Hughes. Orra L. C. Hughes was born near York, PA in 1836. He began work as a farm laborer, then school teacher, then printer. Hughes, a member of theErie County bar, was as well known in Buffalo, as he was Collins Center; as well known on a National level as he was in many states. He worked with the Freedman's Bureau, in the area of Education, during 1867, and was once Superintendent of Education in Tennessee. He was also appointed, by President Hayes, Consul to Haiti, but never served. He was involved in several trials where the plaintiffs were women. (A rarity during these times.) He was involved in a murder/accidental shooting trial which brought national attention to both the Buffalo Court Houses and Collins Center.

Orra Hughes left the Western New York area in the early 1890's to move to Tacoma, WA. His eye sight had weakened, but he managed to become involved in various high profile legal cases in the Tacoma area. He returned to Olean, Western New York in 1900 where he passed away in February 1901. His body was brought to Collins Center to be buried next to his first wife, Mary Molson Hughes. [briggs, olchughes]


1868a. J. Edward Nash is born. Also see 1836, 1868, 1892, 1925.

1868b. Staats' Lockport City Directory for 1868-69. Lockport: M.C. Richardson, 1868, 42.


1869a. Amelia Loguen daughter of Jermain Loguen married Lewis Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, in the Loguens' Syracuse home.

1869b. Austin Steward dies in Canandaigua. For more details on Steward see Austin Steward timeline.


Earliest record I have of Ithaca's A.M.E.Zion Church is on Cleveland Avenue is in 1870 where it was attended by Ervin Reed, son of Charles Reed. [Kammen, 105]


1872a. Douglass is nominated for vice-president by Equal Rights Party on a ticket headed by Victoria Woodhull. During the 1872 presidential election, and Frederick Douglass was given an unexpected honor. He was chosen as one of the two electors-at-large from New York, the men who carried the sealed envelope with the results of the state voting to the capital. After the election, Douglass expected that he would be given a position in the Ulysses S. Grant administration, but no post was offered, so he returned to the lecture circuit. Later Douglass's Rochester home went up in flames. None of his family was hurt, but many irreplaceable volumes of his newspapers were destroyed. Although friends urged him to rebuild in Rochester, Douglass decided to move his family to the center of political activity in Washington, D.C. For more on Douglass, also see Douglass and family.

1872b. The king of the Underground Railroad, Jermain Wesley Loguen dies.

1872c. Rochester barely avoids a lynching when William Howard had been accused of raping a White girl. When a crowd threatened to break into the jail the militia was called. Before peace was restored, several persons were shot, and two were killed. Such events inspired the growing Black community to develop more institutions for self help.


With $1200 from a biography of her, Harriet Tubman purchases from the Sewards the home in Auburn, New York. For more on Tubman see the Harriet Tubman timeline.



Marinda Sarah Loguen, daughter of Jermain Loguen, graduated from the Syracuse University College of Medicine. Sarah Loguen was one of the first African American women in the country to earn an MD.


The first African American public school teacher in the Rochester area was Patience Johnson in Lima, New York. [Dupree]


1879a. Eureka Lodge, #36, of the Prince Hall Masons, was established in Rochester.

[Note: The "Black" Masons were founded in 1775 by Prince Hall, a free black from Barbados and fourteen other blacks. Their organization, African Lodge 1, received initiation rites from a Mason group in the British occupying forces in Boston. There were refused the ceremonial charter by the White Masons in Massachusettes and New York and did not receive their charter, from England, until 1787.]

1879b. Jessie Johnson is the first Black to graduate from Ithaca High School. [Kammen, 155]

Buffalo Population in 1880 [lsw]



African American

Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc






The University at Buffalo Medical School graduate Joseph Robert Love (1839-1914). was described in a newspaper article about the 1880 commencement as an Episcopal clergyman who studied medicine as "an auxiliary to his ministerial calling" and was identified then as UB's first black graduate. Dr. Love was a mentor of Marcus Garvey whose intention was "to undertake under Bishop Holly of the Island of Hayti, West Indies, the introductions of the church in San Domingo," according to the commencement article. Love's later writing exerted an important influence on Jamaican history, it was indicated.



1881. The District Council of Buffalo first permitted African American students to enroll in the neighborhood schools. Previously, all Black students were only allowed to attend the Vine Street School for the Colored.



1882a. Florence Sprague (daughter of Rosetta Douglass Sprague, see 1863) and Viola VanBuren where the first Black teachers in the Rochester School District. [Dupree]

1882b. Anna Douglass, died after a long illness. For more on the Douglasses, see Douglass and family.

1882c. Cornelius Nathaniel Dorsette, (1859-1897) a member of the class of 1882, was the second African American to receive a degree from UB. He was Booker T. Washington's physician and often was mentioned by Washington in speeches as an example of black perseverance and initiative. Born into slavery in North Carolina, Dorsette was separated from his mother at two months of age. He was raised by his grandmother and graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1878. Failing health forced him to resign from the Medical College at Syracuse. After regaining his health and being rejected by the University Medical College of New York City because of his race, he came to UB and completed his degree. He helped organize the National Medical Association for black physicians and was a trustee at Tuskegee Institute.


1884a. Frederick Douglass marries 20 years junior Honeoye Falls feminist and "Mayflower daughter" Helen Pitts. It was her race, and not her age upset both the black and the white communities. His German lover,Ottilie Assing , of 30 years commits suicide. Also see Douglass and family.

1884b. Amy Post's book, The Underground Railroad in Rochester is published.


Reknown Black librarian, Sadie Delaney (nee: Johnson) was born in Rochester New York.

Buffalo Population in 1890 [lsw]



African American

Indian, Japanese, Chinese, etc







1891a. Mary Burnett moves to Buffalo as the wife of wealthy businessman William H. Talbert. She had her bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and teaching experience. She later becomes the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. from University of Buffalo. For more on Mary Burnett Talbert, see Talbert. Her sister Henrietta Burnett moves to Buffalo as the wife of William Talbert's brother Robert Talbert

1891b. Hester C. Jeffrey moved to Rochester, New York from Boston, Massachusetts in 1891. She was the daughter-in-law of Reverend Rosewell Jeffrey, an affluent and prominent political activist and the wife of R. Jerome Jeffrey. (She was sometimes referred to as Hester Jeffreys or Hester Jeffries.)

1891c. Frank L. Watkins, who came to the University of Buffalo from Montgomery, Alabama, graduated from the medical school in 1891, and died in Buffalo in 1921.


1892a. Dr. J. Edward Nash becomes pastor of Buffalo's Michigan Street Baptist Church. He remained pastor until 1953. Also see 1836, 1868, 1892, 1925.

1892b. August 22, Oscar E. Brown patents a horsehow lock (click for details).

1893c. Lulu M. Hughes (daughter of Orra L.C. Hughes and Mary D. Molson Hughes) married Charles Brown in Hornell, NY.



On February 20, 1895, Frederick Douglass was struck by a massive heart attack and died at the age of 77. As news of Douglass's death spread throughout the country, crowds gathered at the Washington church where he lay in state to pay their respects. Black public schools closed for the day, and parents took their children for a last look at the famed leader. His wife and children accompanied his body back to Rochester, where he was laid to rest. For more on Douglass, also see Douglass and family.


Rosetta Douglass Sprague, daughter of Frederick is a founding member of the National Association of Colored Women. For more on the Douglasses, also see Douglass and family.


1897.The Spectator published by Black South African emigré Francis Peregrino is published in Buffalo (he formerly published the newspaper in his home country).



The first monument to a black man, Frederick Douglass, was established in Rochester, New York. African American suffragist Hester Jeffrey was on the monument committee.



The National Association of Colored Women established a chapter in Buffalo as the Phyllis Wheatley Club. Susan Evans and Mary Talbert were among the founders.








21st century




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