Black Community Plaque / Marker

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Photo by Jim Wood

The Black Community Plaque is located at 7171 North Geneva Rd Sodus New York  in front of the Steger Haus restaurant.

GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 43.258392  Longitude: -77.014324

The Plaque reads:

Black Community – Free Slaves & Freedom Seekers Lived And Farmed In This Area. At Least 15 Men Served In Civil War 1861-1865 Several Died In Service William C. Pomeroy Foundation 2018  531

Historic narrative:
A small hamlet located just west of Sodus Point, New York in Wayne County was never assigned an official name – one that would be found on maps – but it existed as a place and touchstone in the lives of hundreds of African Americans from the early 1800s through the first quarter of the twentieth century and beyond. Its physical boundaries fell within Sodus School District #2 which was also referred to as the Maxwell District, taking its name from the mill site developed by William N. Lummis in the early 1800s. The Maxwell area got its name from Dr. Lummis in honor of the family name of his wife. Some vital records for its residents placed their birth place as “Maxwell.”

The Maxwell Settlement community began along what is now North Geneva Road just south of Margaretta Road and comprised approximately 60 acres.  In 1813 several men, women and children, who had been enslaved by Peregrine Fitzhugh, were freed following his death by his wife. Prior to abolition the community served as a safe-haven for refugees fleeing slave states. Many Maxwell Settlement residents helped those escaping the horrors of slavery on their harrowing journey to the protection of Canada. Various documentation indicates that some of those would return from Canada back to the Maxwell Settlement.

During the Civil War, over fifteen men who had at one point resided within the community or whose family would reside in Maxwell Settlement, joined the United States Colored Troops’ regiments to fight in the war. Five died in the service of their country.

• James A. Potter, husband of Margaret Newport, son of James and Chloe Potter; died while in service; 1st USCT

• William T. Lloyd, grandson of Thomas and Rosetta Lloyd; died in service, 8th USCT

• John Wesley Cortright, son of Prime Cortright, served in 11th USC Heavy Artillery; died while in service.

• Bradley and Elijah Gregor, sons of James and Almira Gregor, served in 8th USCT; died while in service.

Residents of the Maxwell Settlement contributed to 19th and 20th century community life in much the same way as their fellow townspeople, with the added burden of negotiating the dangers of structural, institutional and individual racism.


Here is a five part series of videos of the Dedication Ceremony for this plaque: