Underground Railroad #28
4x4ft Barn Quilt - North Trail
This barn quilt commemorates LeRoy’s rich history with the Underground Railroad. The stone house was once owned by Elijah Huftelen, who as a young boy, helped the local “stationmaster” Daniel MacDonald on what was known as the Covington Route. In the early 1900s, Elijah published two small booklets which told about the passage through LeRoy and the dangers that he and MacDonald endured to secure freedom for the escaping slaves. These are the most detailed accounts of the Underground Railroad in LeRoy.
The route came up through Pennsylvania and Alleghany County and then through Pavilion Center and along Oatka Creek, passing the Bernd Farm and crossing the creek at Jug City. Walking at night, the runaways crossed through the fields and crossed the State Road near the Keeney Homestead. The trail was very swampy, and there were few houses along the route. They were told to find the “Medicine Man” - Daniel MacDonald - who lived near the old cemetery. Elijah Huftelen took care of MacDonald’s horses and later, after MacDonald moved the route west, Elijah went with him. Elijah Huftelen lived in this stone house after he returned to LeRoy and was known for the beautiful lilies that he raised and shipped to New York City.
There are recent stories about quilts being used to mark the Underground Railroad routes. LeRoy Historian, Lynne Belluscio, shared her thoughts on this matter, stating that this is not true: “These stories began when a woman wanted to sell quilts and made up a story about runaway slaves looking for quilts. The truth is that the quilt patterns that she mentioned did not exist at the time. The quilts that she was selling were made from material that was not manufactured until after the Civil War. Her stories were so exciting that they were included in children’s books and school history books. Scholars have published numerous articles explaining why the stories cannot be true, yet it has been hard to convince people about this erroneous history.”