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Pleasantville's Ties to Underground Railroad [VIDEO]

Memorial outside the Mount Pleasant Public Library pays tribute to Moses and Esther Pierce.

More than three years worth of efforts by a dedicated committee were rewarded when the Village of Pleasantville and Town of Mount Pleasant publicly marked the brave actions of two former residents.

English Professor Dr. Doreethee von Huene Greenberg became interested in the Underground Railroad's local ties when she connected with Pace alum and local historian Bert Ruiz in 2005 and he told her that "yes," there was in fact slavery in Pleasantville.

Click the video to the right for more.

He also introduced her to Moses Pierce and Esther Carpenter Pierce, a local Quaker couple who aided escaping slaves during the 1800s.

Greenberg took time off from her post at Pace to research the Pierces, during which time she visited historical sites including the Carpenter Cemetery in New Rochelle, Chappaqua's Friends Meeting House and the John Jay Homestead.

Her findings were published as an article in The Westchester Historian.

On May 14, local officials and members of the Pierce Committee gathered to dedicate a memorial plaque in front of the to the Pierces. It reads:

Village of Pleasantville—Town of Mount Pleasant

A Stop on the Historic Underground Railroad

Moses Pierce 1816-1886 & Esther Carpenter Pierce 1815-1900

Courageous upholders of just and right principles, the Pierces were local leaders in the abolitionist movement dedicated to ending the cruel institution of slavery. In quiet defiance of the laws of the time, they secretly sheltered enslaved men, women and children at their home, helping them on their perilous road to freedom. Such selfless actions for human rights inspire us still.

Wrote Greenberg, "Focusing on the underground railroad helps us emphasize the best in our culture—courage, generosity, creativity and the willingness to open our hearts to each other in collaboration to create a better, more humane world."


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gail burlakoff July 30, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Nice piece! Wish there were captions with the photos so we could tell who's who. I recognize Carsten and Phoebe and (I think) the mayor of Pleasantville, but wish I knew who the others are and how they all fit into the overall picture.
Sarah Studley July 30, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Hi Gail—the photos now have captions. The group is a mix of local officials and members of the committee that spearheaded the memorial's efforts and the ceremony.
Sarah Studley July 30, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Hi Maria, Dr. Greenberg's article references "Moses Pierce's small Pleasantville farmhouse, now located in the hamlet of Thornwood," based on information from Pleasantville's historical records curator, Carsten Johnson. Also, she wrote, "By 1860 Moses and Esther had moved to his deceased father’s farm in the area of Pleasantville now known as Foxwood."
Stan Greenberg August 01, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Great job, Sarah!
Sarah Studley August 06, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Thank you, Stan.

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