The Ross Homestead is the only remaining property known to have been part of the Northampton Association of Education and Industry (NAEI). The NAEI was one of a number of Massachusetts’s “utopian” communities of the 1840’s. Largely defined by the abolitionism of its members, several documents confirm the presence of fugitive slaves at the “Community”, at least two of who became members. The Sojourner Truth and the black abolitionist David Ruggles who reported to have helped 600 slaves to freedom in New York were also members. Frederick Douglass and Samuel J. May visited, as did William Lloyd Garrison whose brother-in-law, George W. Benson, was one of the founders. Eight members are said to have kept safehouses on the Underground Railroad either before or after their time at the NAEI. One of these men, Samuel L. Hill, arranged to purchase Ross Homestead (then the Theodore Burt house) in 1841, merging it with other founders’ property to form the 470 acres of the NAEI. Austin Ross arrived in 1845 and was the last director of the Agricultural Department of the NAEI. He remained on the farm in 1846 when the NAEI dissolved. Of all the local agents, Samuel L. Hill and Austin Ross are the most often mentioned in connection with the Underground Railroad. Accordingly, the Ross Homestead well represents the Underground Railroad activity of the NAEI and the subsequent work of Austin and Fidelia Ross.
Visitor Information: Currently not open to public.
Location: 123 Meadow Street, Florence, 01062
National Park Unit: Yes
Ownership: Nooni and Alicia Hammarlund
Location Type: Site
Religious Denominations: Northampton Association of Education and Industry