Niagara Gazette — But Carol had two things going for her: First, she had ownership and control of an actual secret compartment built beneath the main barn which served no other rational purpose other than to hide people, complete with artifacts consistent with the persistent rumors that had survived for nearly 150 years that the McClews were well known for their abolitionism, and second, perhaps more powerful than the first, she had the untiring will and the amazing charm and tenacity to see her dream of telling the true story all the way through.
We worked together to convince all of the other local grant competitors to withdraw their applications and support Carol’s; they did, and she was awarded the small grant to put together a powerful presentation that linked the combined interests of people seeking freedom with farms in Niagara County that needed labor.
Carol Murphy, like Maya Angelou was a poet, a master storyteller. She was neither long winded, nor affectatious. She was direct, often blunt, sometimes very, very funny, always a lady, a chef, a hostess, and always, always, always a farmer.
She loved people as much as she loved that orchard; proud of her Tea Room, jams, jellies and preserves, she was especially proud of the orchard. I recall accompanying her on several trips around the property as she explained to wide-eyed kids of every age, pulled along on a wagon powered by an old tractor, her voice rising above the rumble answering questions from eager voices; “What was it like here 150 years ago?”
“Just like you see it today”, she’d refrain. “Farming is hard work, these trees need people, and the people needed the work. This farm took care of a lot of people, and a lot of people took care of this farm, still does!” she’d say, asking the kids if they think that they could find their way in the woods if they were trying to find their way to freedom while some slave catchers were sure to be right behind them?