The Rome Historical Society will host a live Zoom program with Archeologist Matthew Kirk and Camden High School History Teacher Jessica Harney on Saturday, September 25th. The program will cover the current archaeology being done at the former site of the Florence settlement in northwest Oneida County.
Recent scholarship has placed an emphasis on the obscured saga of enslavement, emancipation, and pathways to freedom and true citizenship for black New Yorkers. The Florence settlement emerged from the efforts of Albany civil rights activist Stephen Myers in the late 1840s. Individuals from New York and New England bought uncleared parcels of land for farming. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and other unforeseen difficulties, caused the collapse of the community shortly thereafter.
Today, the area is partially covered by state forests. With the help of students from Camden Central High School, archeologists are now trying to uncover the former settlement and learn more about its residents. Kirk and Harney will share recent findings, and what is currently known about the rise and fall of the Florence farming community in the mid-19th century followed by a Q&A session.
Photo of Florence Black Community in Oneida County provided.