Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version “REWIND”
September 1, 2016
An early view of Darrowsville, Town of Chester. Photo courtesy of Town of Chester Historian, Donna Lagoy.
Darrowsville, A Warren County Hamlet with
Connections to the Underground Railroad
This issue of Rewind allows us to meet two goals: 1) We continue our look at the hamlets of Warren County, and 2) we can focus on an very important event happening on September 17, 2016 – the dedication of the memorial at site of the Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist Church, a key player in the Underground Railroad. The ceremony will take place in Darrowsville, 3 miles south of Chestertown at 2 pm on the 17th. The public is invited to attend.
Darrowsville was once a populated hamlet in the southern part of the Town of Chester. Once part of the Town of Warrensburg but now part of the Town of Chester, it was partially in a mile strip of land that was taken from the Town of Warrensburg and given to the Town of Chester by the Warren County Board of Supervisors in November 1855.
Darrowsville got its name from James Darrow, an early settler. At one time there were two churches, a district school, hotel, grist mill, sawmill, blacksmith shop and a wagon or carriage shop in the hamlet.
Of the two churches, the Methodist Episcopal Church did not survive. This church was organized on May 31, 1856, but it had disappeared by 1867.
The other church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church, is reported to be one of the first churches formed by the Wesleyan Methodist movement. At a convention of Methodist Church leaders held in Utica, New York in 1843, the Wesleyan Connection was formed. The prime focus was protesting slavery, which was condoned by the southern Methodists.
The Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist Church was first called the “Warrensburgh Class” and then the “Darrowsville Class.” Myron Tripp of Chester organized it on July 14, 1843. The church building was built in 1845.
Thomas Baker was an abolitionist minister (those trying to abolish slavery) who served the church from 1845 to 1855. He was active in the Underground Railroad, and this church building has been documented as being a stop on the Underground Railroad.
All that is left of the hamlet today on Darrowsville Road is a sawmill, a cemetery adjacent to the site of the Darrowsville Wesleyan Methodist Church and the homes of those who still say they live in Darrowsville.
There were two early pit mines in the Darrowsville area. One was for feldspar, which was carried as ballast by sailing vessels and used in the manufacture of fine china. The other was a silver mine where enough silver was found to plate homemade utensils.
While the Wesleyan Methodist Church building is gone, the Town of Chester Historical Society has spent countless hours designing and building a memorial to importance of the area. They have saved the bell from the church and placed historical plaques to highlight the history of the hamlet.
Two books have been written to tell the story and will be available for purchase on the day of the ceremony:
The Darrowsville Church on the Underground Railroad by Laura Seldman
The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Town of Chester by Laura Seldman and Donna Lagoy
Material for this article was provided by Town of Chester Historian, Donna Lagoy.
@copyright September 1, 2016 by the Warren County Historical Society