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Peterboro to celebrate Emancipation Day, Hometown Day

Max Smith offers a song during the 2011 commemorative ceremony where a newly purchased gravestone for his grandfather Willie Smith was installed for the first time. Each year wreaths are dedicated to the graves of Gerrit Smith and a freedom seeker who is buried the Peterboro Cemetery.

Max Smith offers a song during the 2011 commemorative ceremony where a newly purchased gravestone for his grandfather Willie Smith was installed for the first time. Each year wreaths are dedicated to the graves of Gerrit Smith and a freedom seeker who is buried the Peterboro Cemetery. Dot Willsey

The 2012 Peterboro Emancipation Celebration will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4, and annual Peterboro Hometown Day will be held on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Emanciaption Day, which is a free, family event open to the public, celebrates the lives and legacy of freedom-seekers who came to Peterboro in the mid 1800s with the aid of abolitionist Gerrit Smith, and is hosted by the descendents of those who settled and raised families in Peterboro.

A morning reception is planned at 10 a.m. with registration upon arrival to the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro A traditional tent meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. Event hosts will recount the history of the Peterboro Emancipation Celebrations and share the story how their family histories have inspired them to revive the event over the past three years.

An annual group photo will help commemorate the day followed by a noon procession to Peterboro Cemetery for the wreath ceremony and dedication of a new memorial stone that has been purchased with the help of generous donations. Each year, a wreath is placed at Smith’s gravesite, and another will be placed near one of the 17 gravesites of people in the Peterboro Cemetery who were born into slavery but died free.

The afternoon keynote presentation, “Dr. King and the Mighty Stream of Righteousness; a Journey from Peterboro to Montgomery,” will be presented by Hugh C. Humphreys at 2 p.m. at the Smithfield Community Center on Pleasant Valley Road in the village of Peterboro. The public is also invited to attend this presentation.

The day will end back at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark with children’s games and an historic scavenger hunt for information from the newly installed exterior interpretive signs made possible by National Parks Service National Historic Landmark Project.

There is free parking at the event, families are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch, and a donation of $5 per person is suggested for admission. For more information and directions, visit gerritsmith.org, email info@gerritsmith.org or call 280-8828.

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