DISCOVER THE VERMONT AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE TRAIL. frican American history in Vermont dates back to the 1600s, long before its found- ing as a state. The Vermont African American Heritage Trail (VAAHT) brings visitors to museums and cultural heritage sites that illuminate an impor- tant part of the state's rich history. Beginning the Trail in Southern Vermont No tour through Vermont is complete without a stop at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester. Built by President Lincoln ’ s son, Robert in 1905, this 412-acre estate includes a histori- cal home, gardens, a working farm and multiple exhibits, including one with President Lincoln ’ s iconic stove pipe hat! Robert Lincoln served as president of the Pullman Company when it was the largest manufacturing company in the world and the largest employer of African Americans. The black Pullman porters played a major role in the com- pany’s success, and a provocative exhib- it called Many Voices details their stories, complete with a restored 1903 Pullman car Sunbeam! The Grafton History Museum , the Turner Hill Interpretive Center , and the 595-acre Turner Wildlife Management Area in Grafton is where visitors can learn about the life of Daisy Turner, her twelve sib- lings and parents, ex-slaves, Alexander and Sally Turner, who settled in Grafton after the war. Central Vermont’s History of Freedom, Education and Abolition A highlight of the trail is without a doubt the Old Constitution House in Windsor, where the first state constitu- tion in America to prohibit slavery was adopted in 1777. This document prom- ised freedom for men beyond age 20 and women beyond 17, as well as free public education for both genders. The restored tavern, known as “the Birthplace of Vermont,” looks as it did 200 years ago and recounts this historic act. Woodstock is known as being among the most historic areas of the state with two stops on the Trail. The River Street Cemetery holds the graves of eight of the 152 Vermont African Americans who served in the Civil War for the Union Army in the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. Learn more about the area’s abolitionist history at the Marsh–Billings– Rockefeller National Historic Park . In addition to laying the groundwork for the first public school system, Vermont also played a hand in developing a pub- lic higher education system. The Senator Justin S. Morrill Homestead in Strafford chronicles the life of Sen. Morrill, who was critically important to the advance- ment of education. Congress passed both of his Land Grant College Acts in 1862 and 1890, making the founda- tion for at least one public university in every state. This included historically black colleges and universities, which owe their existence to Morrill. One of the most important stops along the trail, Rokeby Museum and historical farm in Ferrisburgh is famous for being part of the Underground Railroad. Free and Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont introduces visitors to Simon and Jesse, two fugitives from slavery who were sheltered at Rokeby in the 1830s. The exhibit traces their stories from slav- ery to freedom, introduces the abolition- ist Robinson family who called Rokeby home for 200 years and the turbulent decades leading up to the Civil War. In Middlebury visit Alexander Twilight Hall at Middlebury College. The Vermont Folklife Center offers an interactive exhibit chronicling the history of Daisy Turner, Vermont ’ s famous storyteller from Grafton. Her riveting style of sto- rytelling was captured in hours of inter- views that share her family ’ s story right up until her death in 1988, when Daisy was Vermont’s oldest citizen at age 104. The Brandon Museum in Brandon chron- icles the life of Stephen Douglas, best known as Abraham Lincoln ’ s opponent for presidency. This museum showcases the town ’ s anti-slavery movement and its connections to the national abolition- ist movement. Visitors will learn why, even though Douglas rose to national prominence, his hometown resoundingly rejected his politics due to his stance on slavery. Northern Vermont’s African Art, Storytelling and Firsts A few miles south of Burlington, visitors will find the Clemmons Family Farm heritage and multicultural cen- ter in Charlotte. In the early 1900s, some 40 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Lydia Clemmons ’ grandmother escaped from slavery in Louisiana. In 1962, she relocated to Charlotte, where the family started the first mail-order African art business in the country. The Old Stone House Museum in Orleans is the site of Reverend Alexander Twilight ’ s home, school, church and a stately gran- ite building that housed students of the Orleans Grammar School. Reverend Twilight was the first black man to earn a degree from an American college or uni- versity, and even more impressively, was the first African American to be elected as a state legislator. This Vermont trail offers visitors the opportunity to discover African Amer- ican history in some unexpected places. A 8 Vermont Vacation Guide 2019 Visit www.vtafricanamericanheritage.net for a Trail Guide and Map. One of the most important stops along the trail is part of the Underground Railroad.