Finding your brave

Cayuga County was built on trailblazers who were willing to push society’s standards and biases in hopes for a better America for all. Find your brave in Cayuga County – like countless others have done before, such as Slocum and Emily Howland, Harriet Tubman, Martha Coffin Wright and more. 

Take a look at these unique destinations throughout the area. See how these iconic residents have found their brave and how you might be inspired to do the same. 

Hamlet of Sherwood

The migration of the Howland family to upstate New York came with progressive northern ideas. While keeping their Quaker heritage, this family dreamed of spreading the message of equal rights. Slocum Howland, the patriarch of the family, was an active conductor on the Underground Railroad, using his resources (including a store, tenant houses, and a Cayuga Lake port facility) to help previously enslaved individuals reach Canada or, if they preferred, make new homes in the area. Because of its importance, the entire hamlet including 28 homes and properties, known as the Sherwood Equal Rights Historic District, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.

In 1837, Slocum Howland built a general store which served as an important and authentic station on the Underground Railroad and the heart of a Quaker hamlet active in liberal social causes. The building that housed the store is now the Howland Stone Store Museum. Stroll through the museum and enjoy the unique collection of abolition and suffrage artifacts. 

Slocum’s daughter, Emily Howland, devoted her long life (1827–1929) to abolition, women’s suffrage, and education, and was a friend of Harriet Tubman’s. Emily spent much of her time teaching previously enslaved individuals how to read and write and even went on to found or support more than 50 schools for freed African Americans. Recently, a photograph of Harriet Tubman as a young woman was uncovered among a photo album once belonging to Emily Howland, further demonstrating their close friendship.  


Just 4 miles down the road from the Museum, you’ll find the quaint Village of Aurora, also designated as a National Historic District. At just under one square mile, you can enjoy a peaceful respite from the busy world. 

  • Tempt your taste buds at the Fargo Bar and Grill. Enjoy American favorites as a classic, or with a twist as the chefs put their talents on display at this pleasant restaurant and tavern owned and operated by the Inns of Aurora. These unique accommodations boast five different Inns, along with a farm-to-table restaurant, village market, activities & wellness center, and demonstration kitchen—all tucked into this charming setting. 
  • After a great meal, wet your whistle at Long Point Winery. Overlooking Cayuga Lake, the awe-inspiring views take a backstage only to the medium to full-bodied delicious wines you experience in the tasting room. Local cheeses also available! 
  • If beer is your thing, head next door to Aurora Brewing Company. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Cayuga Lake, these brew masters make small batches of curious styles with a focus on hoppy beers, fruited and non-fruited sours and stouts.


As you contemplate your inner braveness, take a walk through history on the Freedom Trail. Choose a guided or self-guided tour as you see churches, meeting houses, museums, parks, historic markers, and burial grounds that tell stories of courage, treason, turbulence and more. This trail is rich with Revolutionary War history and is linked to the Black Heritage Trail. Spend some time in the past, while being in the present. 

Immerse yourself in the unparalleled stories of American heroes at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center. New York State’s progressive history supporting equality – the human rights movement, abolition of slavery and women’s rights movement – comes alive through interactive displays. Experience the creative ways New Yorkers found their brave to stand for justice and learn about the key contributors from the 1800s to modern day. 

The Center includes a Taste of NY store featuring local products and tasty treats. As the Auburn NY Visitor Center, you will also find information on the region’s many attractions and destinations.  If you’re looking for information, 

Learn more about Auburn’s brave pioneers in the book “The Agitators” by Dorothy Wickenden. Telling the story of Auburn residents and friends, Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward, and Martha Coffin Wright, it opens when Tubman is enslaved, and Wright and Seward are young women struggling with their traditional roles. It ends decades later, after Seward’s and Wright’s sons—and Tubman herself—have taken part in three of the defining engagements of the Civil War. Reconstructed from their letters, diaries and public appearances, the book offers a glimpse of the courageous men and women whose paths they crossed: Lincoln, William H. Seward, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Brown, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others.

After reading the book, visit the homes of Tubman and Seward and the historical marker noting where Wright's residence once stood, for added inspiration.