Fugitive Slaves On Flat Street

James Frost Mansion, Frost Meadows, Shoemaker Shop, Flat Street.jpg

But even of greater importance than the work that was done through the west part of the State was that of the "underground railway" that ran up the Connecticut Valley with regular stations at Hartford, Northampton, Greenfield, Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Windsor and so on to Canada. The Brattleboro station was the home of the late Chas C Frost "the learned shoemaker" on Flat street, just opposite where the Carpenter Organ factory now is. Mr Frost with the earnest inflexible character that marked him through life, was an uncompromising abolitionist, and believed, without shadow of doubt, that he was doing God's work in helping runaway slaves to their freedom.

Charles C. Frost, Shoemaker Shop, Fugitive Slave Safe House, Flat Street.jpg

Charles C. Frost's House And Shoe Shop On Flat Street

His son, Merchant Wells S Frost, says that in four or five years of this work not less than 40 or 50 negroes stopped at his father's house, and there was a room up stairs with bed and everything else necessary, constantly kept for them. They always traveled in the night time, would reach this house early in the morning with a letter from the man of the station at Greenfield and keeping in hiding in the room through the day time would start after dark for Bellows Falls with a sufficient supply of food and money and a letter to the man who had the station there. Wells Frost as a lad used to take their meals to them in the chamber and tells of one night finding the bed, chairs and everything else piled against the door. They were almost always in a state of utter fright expecting pursuers and recapture. Mr Frost now has in his store a slave driver's whip which one of them brought away from the plantation and presented to him. But never was one of them caught here and indeed very few people in town had any suspicion of the work the "learned shoemaker" was carrying on.

Brattleboro Reformer, April 18, 1899.


Charles C. Frost

"There is shown in Frost & Proctor's window an interesting relic of the days, some 35 years ago, when Brattleboro was a station on the Underground Railroad, and there was a room in the Frost house on Flat Street where Mr. Frost's father, the late Charles C. Frost, used to hide runaways from slave land during the day, feed them, and at night send them along to Bellows Falls, the next stage on the long and dangerous journey to Canada. The relic is a slave-driver's whip which a Georgia negro stole from his overseer and brought as far as Brattleboro, where he gave it to Mr. Frost."

Vermont Phoenix, May 22, 1891.


Whetstone In Winter


Whetstone In Summer



Frost Mansion And Charles C. Frost's Safe House

Letter And Coins Had Lain For Years.

Found on Beam in Shed

Used Many Years Ago as Shoe Shop by

Charles C. Frost on Flat Street.

While workmen were tearing down an old shed east of the Wilson blacksmith shop on Flat street a few days ago for F. A. Larraw, the owner, they found on one of the beams a letter addressed to Charles C. Frost, who many years ago kept a shoe shop there and was one of the well-known citizens of the town. The letter was written by Asher Peabody of Monson, Mass., and was dated July, 1859. It was in regard to a case of Calcutta boots which were sent to Mr. Frost.

Enclosed in the envelope were two 10-cent pieces, each dated 1827. The design of 10-cent pieces in those days was much different from that of today.

It is presumed that the letter and coins were laid on the beam not long after the letter was received and that it had lain undisturbed all the years since.

Brattleboro Reformer, April 2, 1915.


Later Shop History

The Vermont Phoenix for December 28, 1900 reported that "The old Frost house on Flat Street has been made into a grocery store by J. E. Bushnell." This photograph was taken in 1900. The nineteen-year-old Bushnell is standing center, with his arms crossed---


When Jason Bushnell removed his grocery store to Elliot Street in 1915, this old shelter for fugitive slaves became a tenement house, then a Ford motor car garage, and finally burned down in 1941. This is the only known view of the shop interior---



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