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.
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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."