Home to four generations of the Robinson family, Rokeby, built in 1793,
is significant for its role in the Underground Railroad and for the many letters,
account books, and diaries kept by the family while they lived in the house that
document the first two generations' involvement in the antislavery cause. A National
Historic Landmark, Rokeby was constructed by Thomas (1761-1851) and Jemima (1761-1846)
Robinson, Quakers who were active members of the Vermont and Ferrisburg Anti-Slavery
Societies. Their son Rowland Thomas Robinson (1796-1879) made abolition the cause
of his life and sheltered fugitive slaves at Rokeby. Hundreds of letters written
to Rowland Thomas between 1830 and 1865 are now located at the Sheldon Museum
Archive and Research Center in Middlebury, Vermont. With abolition as the most
common theme, these letters were written by local and regional antislavery activists,
as well as national figures such as Lucretia Mott, William Lloyd Garrison, and
Issac T. Hopper. These letters show Rowland Thomas' involvement in the Underground
Railroad and are proof that he harbored fugitive slaves at Rokeby, negotiated
freedom papers for former slaves from their masters in the South, and helped freedmen
find employment. Family letters not only validate Rokeby as a stop, they add to
our knowledge, correcting and sharpening our understanding of the Underground
Railroad and providing insight into how "the legend outgrew the reality."
Now a museum, Rokeby is fully furnished with Robinson family belongings, including
furniture, clothing, dishes, books, art, and other artifacts.
located in Ferrisburg, Vermont on US Route 7 at the corner of Robinson Road just
north of Ferrisburg. It is open to the public.
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