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New Guinea: Researcher works to uncover lost history of Auburn’s 19th century Black settlement

The Cayuga County Historian’s Office is working to uncover more details about New Guinea, Auburn’s early 19th century settlement founded by free Black people.

The Historian’s Office review runs concurrent with a historic review ordered by the city of Auburn. The city’s review was ordered after hearing a proposal to build a parking lot on the former site of New Guinea, according to The Citizen.


The Historian’s Office review is led by Jessica Armstrong, a research assistant who decided to delve into the history of the settlement with the hope of learning more about the community and its residents.

The settlement covered both sides of Osborne Street, known then as Mechanic Street. There is only one existing map, created in 1837, that shows the settlement’s name as “New Guinea: Negro Settlement” with seven black squares that appear to represent houses.

Harry and Kate Freeman are believed to be the founders of New Guinea. The Freemans were likely enslaved in the Guinea region of West Africa at one point, hence the settlement’s name. The arrived at the area that would become Auburn in 1793 along with Auburn’s founder Colonel John Hardenbergh.

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One resident, Larry Leubner, spoke against the proposal to build a parking lot at 118 Osborne Street at the city planning board’s March 1 meeting. He suggested the city buy the land and turn it into a public park.

The State Historic Preservation Office is currently conducting a review of the site.



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