Sullivan Street looking South to One World Trade Center. A woman named Harriet and her child were sheltered in a building which was once on the right side of the street just before the hi-rise.
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, a presentation by Don Papson on Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City: Sydney Howard Gay, Louis Napoleon and the Record of Fugitives aired  on CSPAN 3 American History TV. Mr. Papson spoke about the “Record of Fugitives,” a previously unpublished text from the 1850s kept by abolitionist Sydney Howard Gay, in which he reveals his close collaboration with Louis Napoleon, a free black who helped scores of runaway slaves escape to freedom. Mr. Papson co-wrote the book with Tom Calarco. 

Post broadcast, the program is  available on CSPAN’s website: http://www.c-span.org/series/?ahtv.

Don was introduced by Sydney Howard Gay’s great-granddaughter, Otis Kidwell Burger. Since Secret Lives was published in March of 2015, Otis  and Don have become good friends. Otis is 92 years old, feisty, and so passionate about Secret Lives, she has become the book’s “New York City agent!”  

This  presentation, which took place on February 24, 2016, at the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village, inspired Don to conduct an in-depth investigation of a  case he and Tom Calarco alluded to in Secret Lives, the story of a woman who escaped from Virginia on the steamship Jamestown. A black family on Sullivan Street sheltered and protected Harriet and her child.

Don speaks about Secret Lives and Gay and Napoleon’s unlikely UGRR alliance.  Because of his friendship with Otis and her cousin, Bess Fuchs, we know so much more than we did a year ago. You see, Bess inherited an important letter…

Watch C-SPAN American History TV to find out why the letter is so significant.


The building where Harriet and her child were sheltered was a brick building across the street from this historic building and may have looked like it.