Harvey Granite's play "The Woman in the Box" and Warsaw's prominence in the abolitionist movement has piqued deeper research. Richard Baker, trustee of the Warsaw Historical Society, recently discovered some old photos of the "old corner store" located at South Main and West Buffalo Streets. It's probable that the centrally located store was the scene of much talk about slavery during the underground railroad era.
The first photo is of a wood building constructed in about 1820. Shortly thereafter Andrew W. Young operated within it a mercantile business for about ten years. Thereafter for a few years, Young partnered with Joshua Darling in 1830. Upon Young's leaving the dry goods business to start up Warsaw's first Anti-Slavery newspaper, Darling operated the store as sole proprietor for about ten years. He was then joined by Allan Breck.in about 1850. It is well established that these three business men shared anti-slavery ideas with other Warsaw abolitionists including Augustus Frank and Seth Gates.
It was in about 1850 that pregnant, Anna Jones and her daughter arrived in Warsaw concealed in a wagon. As portrayed in Granite's play, the Allen Breck and the Joshua Darling families protected Anna Jones from slave catchers before she bore a son and died from consumption about a year later. It also projects concerns about her surviving children and fear of their recapture. The play also illuminates the spirit of the early Warsaw community's seemingly coordinated efforts to protect the children and other slaves fleeing to Canada in the face of the then harsh fugitive slave law.
Andrew W. Young who ran the "corner store" first as sole proprietor and then in the early 1830's in partnership with Joshua Darling became editor of the "American Citizen" in 1836. The "American Citizen" was Warsaw's first newspaper calling for abolition of slavery. Later in life, he wrote numerous books arguing the humanitarian obligations of American citizenry.
Joshua Darling who partnered with Allen Breck for a few years during the 1850's continued operation of the corner store for several years until he went into banking. The old wooden "corner store" was replaced with a rather grand four-story, brick building in 1870. The massive building was built for the Warsaw Furniture Company and burned in 1894.
Darling funded creation of Warsaw's first bank with $50,000, Wyoming County Bank, in an old wood building and became President of the Village in 1860. He thereafter housed his bank in a newly constructed brick building which exists today at the corner of North Main and West Buffalo Streets.
Trustee Baker examined the photos and the presently existing corner building at southwest corner of Main and Buffalo Streets. He believes that after the four-story building was substantially damaged by fire in 1894, that the damaged remains of the two upper floors including the beautiful mansard roof of the building as depicted in the second photo were removed. The bottom two stories were repaired, a new flat roof constructed and facade embellishments added around the turn of the century. He points to the turn of the century post card of the corner building which shows the adaptive results of the salvage effort which resembles its appearance today. The original brick of the first two stories of the original four-story building is still visible in the alley way between the village office building and the existing two-story building. You can see where the old brick was interweaved with the newer brick in that alley way.
To find places associated with the underground railroad, the Warsaw Historical Society uses maps, photos, oral histories and Young's "History of Warsaw". The Society invites everyone to check their home's history for association with the underground railroad.