Some of you may have noticed in our local newspaper The Citizen that I spent a pleasant evening at Seymour Library in Auburn last week, watching Dr. David Anderson portray Frederick Douglass, a former slave then freedom fighter whose own paper, the North Star, was founded in 1847 and was a lodestone for abolitionists and emancipation for those of color as well as women. Dr. Anderson was great at this living history portrayal, and I did manage to speak to him briefly beforehand about the upcoming sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and the lack of resources at the state level to commemorate it.
Dr. Anderson is also a Senior Fellow with the United States Colored Troops (USCT) Institute, and I have been working for some time now to discover records for Scipio men who served with the USCT. Two men were officers, Daniel Perrine Van Liew and Ed Fells. In addition, James Philips of Sherwood NY fought with the 39th USCT.
A free black man, James was at risk as a soldier if captured by the Confederate Army but he enlisted and saw plenty of action.
James and his family lived out their lives in Scipio, and are buried in Sherwood Cemetery. Their story deserves to be told and I am researching our local records as well as using resources found on our Cayuga County Rootsweb, Footnote.com, the NYS Library, and other internet sites to share it with you. Stay tuned!