by Olivia Twine
The town of Esopus, N.Y., where abolitionist and women’s rights advocate Sojourner Truth was born in bondage in 1797, is honoring the legacy of the freedom-seeker who has become one of the town’s most prominent historical figures. A new roadside marker will be dedicated at 12 noon on August 3, 2015 at the corner of Floyd Ackert Road and Park Lane, where Truth’s walk to freedom began.
The sign states, “Walk to Freedom. In October 1826 Sojourner Truth walked this road from West Park to Rifton, leaving slavery behind for a life of freedom.”
Truth, then known as Isabella Bomfree, lived in Ulster County until 1829. Early one morning she walked away from bondage carrying her infant daughter and a small supply of food. The 12 mile walk included a hike over a mountain ridge. Her destination was uncertain, but assistance was provided by a Quaker who directed her to the home of Isaac and Maria VanWagonen. The VanWagonens welcomed Truth into their home and paid for her freedom until she was free by state law on July 4, 1827.
The marker, erected through a grant from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation in Syracuse, will be dedicated by Rosane Balisteri, the President of the Board of Trustees of the Klyne Esopus Museum, Ulster County Historian Anne Gordon, and Esopus town supervisor Dan Terpening. The public is invited.