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Asa and Caroline Wing House

photo courtesy of the Mexico Historical Society

The Asa and Caroline Wing House was used as a way station on the Underground Railroad. Asa Wing (1815-54) was a regionally recognized abolitionist lecturer and organizer in central New York. Asa Wing's diary, augmented by contemporary newspaper reports and family tradition, documents both his extensive work as an abolitionist agent and lecturer and the use of the family house for the Underground Railroad. His diary entries for late December 1850 document his and his wife's daring assistance in harboring the Thompson family. The parents and five small daughters of the Thompson family rested a couple days at his house while on their way to Canada.

Other diary entries tell of the Wings' political activities. Asa and Caroline were at Liberty Party conventions in October 1850, particularly the one when abolitionist Gerrit Smith was nominated for president and African American minister Samuel Ringgold Ward for Vice President. They knew both, and Ward had stayed overnight with them while lecturing locally. In the same month Wing attended a meeting to protest the Fugitive Slave Law where he spoke and he attended the trial of a boat crew accused of causing deaths among a freedom-seeking family. At the 1851 New York State Liberty Park convention Wing was appointed to the finance committee, perhaps because of his success at raising money for William Chaplin's bail fund after Chaplin's capture during an Underground Railroad incident.

From the 1840s until his death his greatest contribution to abolitionism was his oratory. He lectured frequently in his home county, but also went as far as Connecticut. Other abolitionists looked to him for coaching. Frederick Douglass praised his style and skills in his eulogy at the dedication of Wing's memorial after his early death at 38 in 1854. Asa was a man of faith and ability despite the serious illnesses like smallpox and tuberculosis that he suffered toward the end of his life. Abolitionist Gerrit Smith prized him, and Wing left other sorely grieving friends and family behind him when he died - several thousand attended the dedication of his monument. After Asa's death Caroline sold their small farm and moved into Mexico village with her daughters. She earned her living by boarding teachers from the Mexico Academy. In 1855 the abolitionists erected a memorial for him in the cemetery.

The Asa and Caroline Wing House is at 3392 New York State Route 69, Mexico, New York. It is currently not open to public.

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