Boonville, New York residents provided vital connections from Utica and Rome to the Canadian border towns along the St. Lawrence. In Utica the Wells family worked to get the fugitives to the Davis family in Steuben. From there many were routed through Boonville before making their way into Leyden, Turin, Houseville, and so on.
One family appears to have played a large role in aiding fugitive slaves on their journey northward - the Millers of Lewis County. In Reverend Frank E. Miller's “The Miller Family of America” is found the story of a young Dwight Miller who was recruited to deliver an escaped slave to the Turin area. Mr. Miller was the grandfather of Boonville's Alice Rogers who resides in a house built by him on Thornton Avenue.
Dwight's father, William Daniels Miller , was part of the local Underground Railroad and lived on a farm along the Moose Creek on the East Road. According to family tradition, one cold day a runaway was brought to Mr. Miller's with a request to take the man to Captain Miller in Constableville, who in turn helped the runaway work his way north into Canada. The fugitive was hidden in a one-horse wagon under a load of manure. Dwight, probably about 10 years old at the time, was ordered to deliver his cargo a swiftly as possible without stopping to talk to anyone. The poorly attired runaway safely reached the destination, but was nearly frozen to death.
Halsey Miller , cousin to Dwight, was a connection in Houseville. Eventually many of those passing through this area would end up in Brownville, where the noted Brown family played a leading role in the abolitionist movement. One fugitive, who took the name of William Wells Brown, reached Canada, where he prospered and wrote a book of his experiences. It is related that a couple of slaves were hid in a barn near Utica and deputy sheriffs were on the lookout for them. In order to get them away a false bottom was built in a wagon, covered with hay and straw and in this way they eluded the officers.
Annabelle Baerger and her sister Candace Cone inherited family stories of how their Cone ancestors participated in the Underground Railroad. Prior to the widening of Route 12D north of the village, the family's house sat next to Moose Creek close to the road. It also lay next to the toll bridge and tollbooth that was once part of the old plank turnpike running northward to Turin. Their grandfather, Duane Cone , told of hiding slaves in his barn and assisting them across the Moose Creek to get them to the Millers. It should also be noted that Mr. Cone's wife was Elizabeth Miller, a member of the same family.
Local lore asserts that the Prescotts who ran a drug store on Main Street in Boonville, presently Dollar City, were also part of the Underground Railroad. A perusal of “The Miller Family in America” turns up an interesting fact. Charles Prescott, the druggist, was married to Helen Miller, another Miller cousin.
A house located at 138 Schuyler Street, known locally as the old Hunt house and currently occupied by Mrs. Royston Spring, was a station for the Underground Railroad. It was said that there was a secret room in the front of the house on the second floor especially designed to hide slaves on their journey to freedom. In the 1920s, the Beal family purchased it and had the secret room removed during a series of renovations.
It is a fact that a man named Calvin B. Hunt owned the house in question and that he was an abolitionist. So who was Calvin B. Hunt? The History of Lewis County written by Franklin B. Hough, a brother to Horatio, contains a detailed description of Calvin B. Hunt of West Leyden and Boonville. He may have purchased the house on Schuyler Street from a friend or relative who was also involved in activities related to the Underground Railroad.