Cyrus Gates

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Cyrus Gates
Picture of Cyrus Gates, Maine, NY.jpg
Born(1802-07-27)July 27, 1802
DiedDecember 11, 1891(1891-12-11) (aged 89)
Nanticoke, New York, U.S.
Lucia Fowler Perkins
(m. 1828; his death 1891)
Parent(s)Russell Gates
Esther Briggs
RelativesFrederick Taylor Gates (nephew)

Cyrus Gates (July 27, 1802 – December 11, 1891) was an abolitionist, cartographer, and owner of the Cyrus Gates Farmstead in Maine, New York.[1]

Early life[edit]

Gates was born on July 27, 1802, in Lisle, New York, near Maine, New York. He was the son of Russell Gates (1766–1839) and Esther (née Briggs) Gates (1761–1850). Under the Boston Purchase of 1786, Cyrus' father and mother had migrated from the East Haddam, Connecticut, area in the early 1790s. His father and uncle Alfred Gates trail blazed the road from Union Center to Nanticoke in order to gain access to their newly purchased property. Cyrus would follow his father by continuing to farm and staying on the land.[1]


Gates worked as a cartographer and surveyor, mapping 15 counties for the State of New York. For several years, he served as the local Justice of the Peace in the then newly formed Town of Maine. Gates was able to grow several crops of produce, including apples, maple sugar, honey, as well as other standard farm produce.[1]

Cyrus would also serve as a deacon in the Maine Baptist church, as he maintained a proactive and sacrificial abolitionist stance.[1]

The Underground Railroad[edit]

Even before Cyrus built his Greek Revival home in 1848 he had taken to harboring runaway slaves. When Cyrus built his new home in 1848 he continued in his activism. He built a secret access door to a hidden part of the attic.[2] If ever needed, this hiding space would add to the safety of runaway slaves that he was harboring at his home.[1]

Personal life[edit]

On November 5, 1828, Cyrus married Arabella Leadbetter (1805–1897), the daughter of Thomas Leadbetter (1768–1844). Together, they were the parents of four children:

  • Livingston Theodore Gates (1829–1903), who would serve in the U.S. Army during the Civil war and then move on to Wisconsin.[3][4]
  • Byron Chandler Gates (1832–1913), who married Lydia Buck, the sister of Daniel W. Buck, who served as Mayor of Lansing, Michigan,
  • Aravesta Clementine Gates (born 1836), who married Alexander Ross.
  • Eugene Orestes Gates (1843–1934), who served in the U.S. Navy on the USS Dictator during the Civil War.

Gates died at the age of 89 on December 11, 1891.

The Cyrus Gates Farmstead[edit]

In 1848, when Cyrus was 45 years old, he began building a Greek-inspired farmhouse. He hired a man from New York City named Charles Yarrington to build it. By the standards of the day and Cyrus' rural location, the style of the house would be considered quite extravagant and over-done for a stick frame farmhouse. In fact, the locals feeling somewhat miffed by Cyrus' use of an out of town builder, called the new house "Gates' white elephant." Construction on the building commenced in January 1848.[5] Great x2 Granddaughter of Cyrus-Louis Gates-Gunsalus says that the house was completed enough to be lived in by the end of that year. The inside carpentry and other finish work of the house would not be completed until 1851.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Biography of Cyrus Gates". Whitney Point Central School District. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Treasures of the Tier". Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Archived from the original on 6 January 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  3. ^ Osterud, Nancy Grey (1991). Bonds of Community: The Lives of Farm Women in Nineteenth-century New York. Cornell University Press. p. 290. ISBN 0801497981. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  4. ^ Brockett, Edward Judson; Koetteritz, John B.; Brockett, Francis Edward (1905). The Descendants of John Brockett: One of the Original Founders of New Haven Colony. Illustrated with Portraits and Armorial Bearings; an Historical Introduction Relating to the Settlement of New Haven and Wallingford, Connecticut. The English Brocketts. "A Pedigree of Brockett," Published in England in 1860. Orange Chronicle Company, printers. p. 99. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  5. ^ Luther, Roger (February 7, 2008). "Freedom is Where I'm Going: Cyrus Gates' Station on the Underground Railroad". Treasures of the Tier. Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012.
  6. ^ "4. Historic American Buildings Survey, 1963, INTERIOR, DOOR, CENTER ROOM, FIRST FLOOR, SOUTH WALL. – Cyrus Gates House, Old Nanticoke Road, Maine, Broome County, NY". Library of Congress. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  7. ^ Beukema, Steven. "Cyrus Gates Farmstead Maine, NY". Whitney Point High Library. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  • "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
  • Gunsalus, Paul and Louise, A Record of the Descendants of Thomas and Anna Rowley Leadbetter, Maine, NY 1980.
  • LaFrank, Kathleen (July 1998). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Cyrus Gates Farmstead". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2009-11-01. See also: "Accompanying six photos"
  • Woodward, Shirley L., A Short History of Maine, New York, 1973

External links[edit]