60 years later, descendant of Underground Railroad “conductor” visits Martinsburg site

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOWN OF MARTINSBURG, New York (WWNY) - Just off State Route 26 in the town of Martinsburg, you’ll see a marker. It’s a dedication to a Lewis County abolitionist who helped slaves escape to the Underground Railroad.

On Friday, one of his descendants came back to visit the site for the first time in more than sixty years.

“When I was an 8-year-old, my family came here and we have a photograph of me and my brother at the entrance of the cave,” said Bill Greer.

Greer is talking about Hough’s Cave, a place he hasn’t visited since the 1960s.

Greer is the great-great nephew of Horatio Hough, an abolitionist who used to hide escaped slaves in this cave by his barn in the town of Martinsburg.

Hough’s Cave was one stop along a north country route on the Underground Railroad, where northerners tried to help get slaves to freedom in Canada.

Greer said walking the grounds gives him a sense of how his family helped in that fight.

“Being a part of history is an incredible feeling, to know these people did the right thing at a hard time to do it,” Greer said.

Although you can’t currently get into the cave, the historical society is hoping one day to change that, and allow access to visitors to see the historical site.

“Have a pull-off, a kiosk, where people can stop an say ‘Ah-ha!” I didn’t know this was here,” said Bette Lathan, a volunteer at the Martinsburg Historical Society.

A welcomed idea for Greer, allowing others to experience the legacy of his great-great-uncle.

“1,200 miles from the deep south to Canada is overwhelming, to think of walking that distance, and food and shelter. That’s what Horatio Hough did, he took care of people,” he said.

If you want to learn more or talk with Greer, he’s in town for the weekend, attending an open house at the old Martinsburg Town Hall from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.