KINGSTON – The first state park in the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster was dedicated Saturday to Sojourner Truth.
“It’s probably been an idea for at least a decade,” said Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson.
A development was proposed on this site, a former quarry, which was not favored by the public.
“We worked with them to fight that leading up to 2008, when the market crashed. And after that we started trying to buy the site,” said Sullivan. “It was a site of industrial activities for 150 years.”
Ice was cut from the river there, clay was quarried for bricks, and cement was made there, and now this bluff above the Hudson River has a new 520-acre state park which will be maintained by Scenic Hudson.
“Now we’re trying to heal the Earth,” said Sullivan. “We’re restoring Mother Nature here.”
A trail leads from the lower parking area to the river as part of the Hudson River Brick Yard trail, which leads south to Kingston Point Park, the Empire State Trail and the Green Line through the city.
Truth was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree in 1797 near Rifton. Two years later, the state started the slow process of emancipation, which would not fully go in effect until July 4, 1827. But during those three decades, Baumfree was bought and sold many times, while having five children, before she finally escaped to freedom with infant daughter in late 1826.
After that she won a legal fight at the Ulster County Courthouse to have her son, Peter, returned from Alabama after being illegally sold to a slave owner there. And it was the first time a black woman won a legal judgment against white man.
Baumfree’s son, Peter, was returned to her in 1828.
A year later, after becoming a devout Christian, she moved to New York City. In 1843, Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth and spent the next four decades, prior to her death in 1883, speaking out against slavery and supporting women’s rights.