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Located in the center of Mexico, New York, the Starr Clark Tinshop was once a vital part of the Underground Railroad. Starr Clark, who was born in Massachusetts, arrived in Mexico in 1832, and he and his wife, Harriet, made Mexico one of the most active abolitionist centers in upstate New York. Clark managed the tinshop on Main Street, which was adjacent to his home. The Clarks welcomed runaway slaves into their home and the business. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001 and is also included in the National Parks Service’s “Network to Freedom,” a program which identifies sites significant to the Underground Railroad.

The Starr Clark Tin Shop

Plant, Property, Window, Sky

Starr Clark arrived in Mexico in 1832 and until his death in 1866, he dedicated his life as well as his home and business to aid fugitive slaves who made their way to New York. At the time, Mexico was well-known as a center of abolitionist activity and the Clarks were among the most active opponents of the institution.

In 1835, Starr Clark sent a petition to Congress asking that it abolish slavery in Washington, DC. It was the first such petition to be issued from Mexico. He also helped to organize the town’s first antislavery society, and in 1838, he joined the Mexico Vigilance Committee, which assisted freedom seekers, many of whom hoped to make their way north to Canada.

During his time in Mexico, Clark was known as a stationmaster—a person who arranged shelter for recently arrived runaways-- on the Underground Railroad. One researcher believes that Clark was the author of a letter written anonymously to the local newspaper which stated that “it is my practice whenever a colored man comes into our village to go and invite him to my house.” Clark also worked to promote the anti-slavery wing of the Whig Party and continued to write antislavery petitions. The Clarks apparently provided housing for runaway slaves in both their home and in the tin shop before helping the fugitives make their way to the next stop.

As of this writing, the Mexico Historical Society has applied for grants to help restore the tin shop to its original condition and to turn the building into a museum. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is also one of 24 sites in New York that are part of the Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

McAndrew, Mike . Shop in Mexico, NY, Hid Slaves and Found a Place in History , February 1st 2005. Accessed February 22nd 2022.,before%20the%20Civil%20War%20began..

Starr Clark Tin Shop, NPS. Accessed February 22nd 2022.