Bonus: Timbuctoo, Adirondacks

John Brown Farm State Historic Site
John Brown’s home in North Elba

Timbuctoo was an African American farming colony in the town of North Elba, just a few miles from Lake Placid in the Adirondacks. It was one of the northernmost free Black communities in New York State, but it was also one of the most significant. In 1846, New York enacted a law stating that Black homeowners could vote only if their real estate was valued at $250. Abolitionist Gerrit Smith gave away 120,000 acres of land to 3,000 Black New Yorkers, creating communities including Negro Brook and Blackville in the North Country. Many moved here to escape slave catchers, who would capture fugitives and sell them back into slavery.

Many residents of Timbuctoo were recruited by Frederick Douglass himself alongside Smith. Residents were expected to have high moral character and high self-restraint. John Brown, who would lead the famous raid on Harper’s Ferry, moved to the area to support Timbuctoo’s development. However, the community struggled since many residents were inexperienced farmers and could not handle rural living. By 1871, just two families remained in the settlement. Notable residents included Lyman and Anne Epps, whose family lived in the area for over a century, and William Appo, who fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run.

Next, check out 33 Black Historic Sites in NYC!