The park represents the history, stories, and people of the Abolitionist Movement in Fitchburg and beyond.
MISSION & HISTORY.
The Fitchburg Abolitionist Park commemorates the men and women of Fitchburg who fought for the abolition of slavery.
Beginning in the 1830s, Fitchburg residents participated in local, regional and national antislavery movements. Multiple homes were stations or depots on the Underground Railroad. The Trinitarian Church was established in 1843 as an antislavery church. Beginning in 1854, 40 to 50 Fitchburg abolition supporters emigrated to the Kansas territory to insure Kansas would enter the Union as a free state.
The home of Benjamin Farwell Snow, Jr. (1813-1892) was located nearby at Day and Waverly Streets. Snow’s estate was one of Fitchburg’s stations on the Underground Railroad which provided temporary shelter for escaped slaves making their way to Canada from the 1840s to the 1860s.
The Samuel Crocker home (West Fitchburg), the William Marshall home (Grove Street), Thomas Palmer’s home (Main Street), and Silas Hosmer’s home (Mount Elam Road) were other known stations. Benjamin Snow also hosted prominent abolitionists speaking in Fitchburg from the 1840s to the 1860s. These included: Frederick Douglass, Lucy Stone, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and Wendell Phillips, among others.
Benjamin Snow was a prominent figure in the anti-slavery movement who brought the abolitionist movement to Fitchburg.
The Trinitarian Congregational Church in Fitchburg, MA was established as a chapter of William Lloyd-Garrison's anti-slavery society. The original building was remodeled by architect H.M. Francis in 1875, for use as a commercial property. In 1908 Aubuchon Hardware established its first store in this location. In 1863 the huge 800-pound bronze bell at the Church tolled in for Josiah Trask, who fought and died for the cause of freedom. The bell symbolizes the end of slavery and the freedom of all slaves.
1834: Anti-Slavery Fair in Fitchburg
1842: Benjamin Snow, Alpheus Kimball et. al break from Calvinistic Congregational Church
1. “Another face stands out clear in my memory, that of Theodore Weld, who lectured frequently in Fitchburg. He had the face and figure of an old prophet, and many of the evils which he foretold would come to a nation holding slaves, we have seen. He married one of the Grimke sisters [Angelina], who were born in South Carolina. They were daughters of a judge, a slaveholder, but left their home for conscience’ sake to lecture at the North of the evils of slavery.”
[From: Wallace, Martha Snow, 1915, My Father’s House, p.6]
2. Sarah and Angelina Grimke, abolitionist sisters, visited the Trinitarian church
1851: Shadrach Minkins brought through Fitchburg’s Underground Railroad
1855: March 13, First trainload of Fitchburg residents traveled to Kansas
1861: Dr. Charles Robinson of Fitchburg became fist governor of the free state of Kansas
1862: March 17 On behalf of the citizens of Fitchburg, Goldsmith Fox Bailey filed a petition with Congress to abolish slavery. For many years Bailey, lawyer, was Fitchburg’s unyielding advocate for African American freedom. In 1860 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives as an antislavery Republican. He died in May of 1862 at the age of 38. Buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. [From Barry, Darren (2017) Union and Emancipation – Conflating Revolutionary Heritage with Abolitionist Practice: Civil War Collective Memory in Fitchburg, Massachusetts 1861-1930, p. 79-80]
1863: January Trinitarian Bell tolls for the first time:
“That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.” [The EmancipationProclamation]
1863: August, Josiah Task of Fitchburg killed in a bloody battle in Kansas
1863-1864: Fitchburg poet Caroline Mason had articles and poems published in abolitionist newspapers
1871: Trinitarian church sold – no definitive date, however the 1871 Fitchburg City Directory lists The Second Methodist Church – Episcopal, at the corner of Main and Church Streets. It was organized May 19, 1871. [1869 Directory lists the “Trinitarian Society,” but no mention of it in the 1870 directory.]
1872: Bell that hung in Trinitarian church steeple sold to the First Congregational Church of Ayer , now the Federated – according to their church history.
1874: June, Civil War Monument in Monument Park dedicated.