Auburn, New York

Auburn is located at the head of Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Auburn is the county seat of Cayuga County.The first settler was Col. John Hardenbergh, a veteran of the Revolutionary War, who arrived in 1793. The city prospered with the arrival of the Erie Canal, but suffered a downturn after the Panic of 1837. It was helped by the coming of the railroad in 1839 and had recovered sufficiently to receive a city charter on March 21, 1848.The Auburn Prison, later the Auburn State Correctional Facility, was established in Auburn in 1816. It was intended as a model for prisonerrehabilitation. The world's first execution inan electric chair took place at Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890. The prisoner, William Kemler, was not killed by the first application ofelectricity and required a second shock.William Seward, in whose "honor" the purchase of Alaska was termed "Seward's Folly," lived in Auburn. Harriet Tubman, one of the organizers of the Underground Railroad, was born a slave in Maryland and fled at the age of six. She did and started a home for aged blacks. The Harriet Tubman Home is now a registered national historic landmark.

History of Auburn

Auburn, one of the newest cities in Nemaha County, included three earlier towns within its city limits—St. George, Sheridan, and Calvert.

The 40 acres of St. George, now northeast Auburn, were platted in the 1850s. Sheridan was surveyed as a 160-acre town site in 1868, just a short distance west of St. George. Calvert began in 1881 as the result of a new railroad depot site being selected south of Sheridan. The site was selected by the Burlington and Missouri Railroad, who purchased the land and named it in honor of Thomas E. Calvert, a railroad official.

Under the leadership of Church Howe and Charles Nixon, the towns of Calvert and Sheridan incorporated into the town of Auburn on May 1, 1882. The city was named after Auburn, New York.

Auburn became the county seat of Nemaha County on February 27, 1883. Nixon and Howe sold the land for a city park for $5,000, which now includes the memorial “Avenue of Flags” honoring all veterans from Nemaha County.

A vestige of the past, Auburn still supports two “downtown” areas—one being the courthouse square and the other in Sheridan along with the crestview business district in south Auburn.

Auburn is Nebraska’s first Tree City USA, an honor they have held since 1976.

Leisure and Travel Blog

Take an hour or spend a few days visiting Auburn’s historic and cultural sites and you’ll soon see why this small city is called “History’s Hometown.”  Auburn is a remarkable hub for key figures and events in American history and culture with outstanding attractions related to the Civil War, Underground Railroad, Black History, art history, women’s rights and much more.  Founded in 1793, the City of Auburn was the historical crossroad for famous political figures, significant events, and culture.  Today, it serves as a unique window into what shaped and continues to form this country. 

See where iconic American heroes Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward lived while helping lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.   View outstanding examples of Tiffany glass at the Willard Memorial Chapel, Cayuga Museum of History & Art and Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Visit the birthplace of talking films at the Case Research Lab and take in a contemporary art exhibit or quilt show at the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.  A visit to Fort Hill Cemetery is a great way to stretch your legs and take in some of Auburn’s history at the same time.  Take a self-guided walking tour of this historic site and active cemetery where notable people such as William H. Seward, Harriet Tubman, Theodore Case and others were laid to rest.  Top off your day with a comedy act, play or even a dance performance at Auburn Public Theater.  You will not be short of things to see and do and everything is within a 5-mile radius of downtown, Auburn.

About Auburn

The City of Auburn (pop. 27,138) is located approximately 25 miles west of Syracuse NY and 120 miles east of Buffalo NY. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region of New York State, Auburn is the county seat of Cayuga County and its largest community.

The City of Auburn is rich in history, arts and culture, offering a great array of museums, historic sites and national landmarks such as the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park and the Seward House Museum. Auburn is also known for a thriving arts scene featuring the Auburn Public Theater and the Schweinfurth Art Center. Visitors are encouraged to start their visit at the new NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center located in downtown Auburn which houses Auburn's Visitor Information Center.

You will find many older established residential neighborhoods surrounding Auburn’s traditional downtown, which is a NYS Downtown Revitalization Initiative recipient and has recently benefited from major revitalization projects. The City improved the public infrastructure within the downtown core and new projects have sprung up as a result of additional private investment.

As the County seat, located in the center of the County, Auburn is the location of many countywide government services, banking and finance, legal and medical services. The Auburn city schools are excellent and Auburn also offers convenient access to higher education at Cayuga Community College.

Auburn is a "full service" city offering a full time Police and Fire Department, curbside trash and recycling pickup, many neighborhood parks, recreation events, city sponsored summer concerts, and much more. Auburn Community Hospital is the only hospital in the County, providing a broad spectrum of health care services.

Employment opportunities for those with the matching skills, especially in the areas of light manufacturing, such as precision metalworking, plastics, and fiber optics and a range of service related jobs supported by education, government, retail and the medical industry. In a regional sense, there are also employment opportunities in Syracuse (about 35 minute drive to the east) and Ithaca (about a 45 minute drive to the south).

Recent History

Auburn Memorial Hospital entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The Hospital had lost $25.6 million since 2001 and was currently $25 million in unsecured debt.

The Heal 4 Project began which included renovations to the Operating Rooms and third floor Memorial Wing relocation of the Psychiatric Unit inside the hospital and upgrades to the heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system. The building project was partially funded by a $4.4 million HEAL NY grant that was awarded to ACH by New York State at the end of 2006.

Three years after declaring bankruptcy ACH had made $9.9 million in profit which included a record $4.2 million profit in 2009 on revenues of $90.2 million.

Since 2007, the hospital had repaid all its unsecured debt under the bankruptcy plan, added 25 physicians and increased the number of admitted patients by 800 in 2009.

Auburn Memorial Hospital completed its eight month renovation of the Maternity Unit renamed, The Stardust Community Birthing Center in Memory of John and Irene Bisgrove. The $2.5 million dollar project, all of which was fundraised, included four Birthing Suites and seven private Postpartum Suites along with an exam room and nursery. The Maternity Unit was last renovated in 1958.

Auburn Memorial Hospital changed its name to Auburn Community Hospital to reflect the stronger connections which the hospital is developing through the communities in the Finger Lakes Region and because the local community is a critical part of the life of this hospital.

Historic Places in Cayuga County

Historic Significance: Associated with Slocum Howland, abolitionist. On New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail.

Lakeside Park

Architect: Merrick & Randall

Style: Colonial Revival

Ownership: Local Govt.

Special Use: Recreation and Culture

John McGreer House

Moravia Union Cemetery (Dry Creek Cemetery)

Ownership: Local Govt.

Morse Farm

Mosher Farmstead (Brightside Farms)

New Hope Mills Historic Site

Architect: Unknown

Style: Mill

Period: 1823

Ownership: Private

North Main St. Historic District

N. Main St. and part of Keeler Ave.

Style: Greek Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate

William Richardson House

Architect: Unknown

Style: Unknown

Period: Unknown

Ownership: Private

Sager House

Architect: James Patten & James Harris

Sand Beach Church

Architect: Not listed

Historic Significance: Associated with Samuel Robbins Brown (1810-1880), missionary to China and Japan and educator. One of the founders of Elmira College.

Schine Theater

Architect: John Eberson

William H. Seward House

Architect: Not listed

Style: Federal, Tuscan

Historic Significance: Associated with William H. Seward, abolitionist. While Secretary of State under Andrew Johnson, Seward encouraged the purchase of the Alaska Territory from Russia for $7.2 million. On New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail. Designated a National Historic Landmark.

South Street Area Historic District

from Metcalf Dr. to Lincoln St.

Style: Late 19th and early 20th Century Revivals, Early Republic, Late Victorian

Ownership: Private, Local Govt., State

St. Peter's Episcopal Church Complex (Church of Saints Peter and John Complex)

Architect: Henry Dudley, William Beardsley

Style: Gothic Revival, Late Gothic Revival

Sterling District No. 5 Schoolhouse

Architect: Not listed

Ownership: Local Govt.

Sterling Grist Mill Complex (Sterling Center)

Architect: Not listed

Thompson (Memorial) AME Zion Church

Architect: Not listed

Historic Significance: Associated with Harriet Tubman, abolitionist. Designated a National Historic Landmark.

Harriet Tubman Grave

Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged (Harriet Tubman Museum)

Architect: None listed

Special Significance: Associated with Harriet Tubman (1820-1913), abolitionist, humanitarian. This house was the original house on the Tubman farm, which Tubman used to house the needy and the aged. It is now a museum and open to the public.

Harriet Tubman House

Architect: Not listed

Historic Significance: Associated with Harriet Tubman, abolitionist. This house was built in 1908 and funded in part by the residents of Auburn. It is on the New York State Underground Railroad Heritage Trail. Designated a National Historic Landmark.

Tuthill-Green House

Architect: James M. Curtis

(Former) U.S. Post Office and Federal Courthouse

Architect: Not listed

Style: Queen Anne, Romanesque

Ownership: Local Govt.

Wall Street Methodist Episcopal Church (African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church)

Architect: Not listed

Willard Memorial Chapel--Welch Memorial Building

Architect: Tiffany Glass & Decorating Co., Andrew Jackson Warner

Historic Significance: Association with stained glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Note: Designated a National Historic Landmark.

Dr. Sylvester Willard Mansion

Architect: Louis Comfort Tiffany

Style: Classical Revival, Greek Revival

Historic Significance: Association with Dr. Sylvester Willard, physician and owner of the Oswego Starch Factory.

Jethro Wood House

Architect: Not listed

Historic Significance: Association with Jethro Wood, inventor of a plough with replaceable parts. Considered "father of the modern plough."

Collection inventory

The correctional facility in Auburn, New York opened in 1817. "The Auburn System" was intended as a new (i.e. tougher) approach to prison, and included policies such as flogging, isolation, lockstep marching, striped uniforms, and rigorously enforced silence. Auburn was the first prison to turn a profit by leasing the labor of its convicts to local manufacturers (products that came out of the Auburn prison factory included nails, barrels, clothing, shoes and boots, carpets, buttons, carpenters' tools, steam engines and boilers, combs, harnesses, furniture, brooms, clocks, buckets and pails, saddle trees, wagons and sleighs, threshing equipment, rifles, and -- at one point -- silkworms and silk). Auburn also has the dubious distinction of being the first prison to install and use the electric chair.

Women prisoners at Auburn suffered particularly dire conditions and were not exempt from physical punishment. In the early days, women prisoners at Auburn were relegated to the dark and airless attic a matron was not hired until 1832, and even then the legislature refused to appropriate funds to pay. In 1838 all women prisoners were transferred to the new female unit opened at Sing Sing, but they returned in 1894 when the Auburn Asylum was closed and converted to a women's prison. The Auburn Prison for Women remained in operation from then until 1933, when a new maximum-security wing opened at Bedford Hills.

Flogging at the Auburn facility was outlawed in 1847 and convict contract labor in 1894. In 1913 Thomas Mott Osborne, mayor of Auburn, was appointed to the newly created State Commission for Prison Reform and, after an undercover stint as an inmate, introduced numerous reforms -- including inmate self-government -- that were later adopted at many other correctional facilities. The prison operates today as the "Auburn Correctional Facility."

[Portions of this background adapted from the brochure "Both Sides of the Wall," published by the Cayuga Museum.]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Auburn Prison Ledgers consists of two volumes. The first volume is a financial ledger, detailing purchases and expenditures including rations, furniture, salaries, and other financial matters pertaining to the women's prison. The second volume includes reports, charts, statistics, and other material. Much of this second volume pertains to the men's prison.


Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Local History

Seymour Library’s Local History Discovery Center preserves, makes accessible and interprets items which document the history of the greater Auburn area.

The History Discovery Center’s mission is to create personal connections and community engagement with local history.

The History Discovery Center will provide research assistance to those seeking local history and genealogical information. Our resources will help your historical and genealogical interests come to life.

Take a virtual tour of the History Discovery Center

Our hours

The History Discovery Center is open Monday – Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and every other Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm, September through May, and every Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm from June through August.

Our collections

Our collections include maps, pamphlets, images, books and other documents for discovering local and state history and genealogy. We also have an extensive collection of Auburn newspapers on microfilm and print.

We also offer access to special equipment to aid with research and preservation. This equipment includes a slide and negative converter, a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, both available for checkout. A Canon Selphy 4࡬ photo printer and a Scan Snap contactless scanner are available for in-library use.

For research

The History Discovery Center offers in-person assistance with local history and genealogy research.

For out-of-room research assistance, contact us by phone, email at [email protected] or complete the Research Request Form and mail it to:

Please note: a limited amount of staff research can be conducted for requests via phone, email or mail. For more extensive research requests, a $15/hour research fee will apply.

Exhibits, workshops & lectures

Our changing exhibits discuss local objects and events within their broader historical context. Visitors are encouraged to discover more through experiential and hands-on activities.

Workshops on genealogical and house history research and image and document preservation are offered throughout the year.

Lectures by local historians will be presented at various time throughout the year and open to the community.

For comments, questions or more information, contact us via email or phone (315.252.2571). Stay up-to-date with the History Discovery Center by following us on Facebook!

111th Infantry Regiment

July 19, 1862, Gen. Jesse Segoine, as Colonel, received authority to recruit this regiment in the counties of Cayuga and Wayne it was organized at Auburn and there mustered in the service of the United States for three years August 20, 1862. The men not to be mustered out with the regiment were transferred, June 4, 1865, to the 4th Artillery.

The companies were recruited principally: A at Marion, Palmyra, Ontario and Walworth B at Clyde and Savannah C at Auburn, Palmyra, Rose Valley, Victory, Montezuma, Summer Hill and Sterling D at Lyons, Sodus, Galen and Williamson E at Arcadia, Sodus, Williamson, Marion and Palmyra F at Port Byron, Auburn and Weedsport G at Auburn and Genoa H at Auburn, Cato, Ira, Conquest and Sterling I at Moravia, Venice, Locke, Ledyard, Niles, Sempronius and Scipio and K at Union Springs, Springport, Genoa, Aurora, Moravia, Scipio and Ledyard.

The regiment left the State August 21, 1862 served in the Middle Department, 8th Corps, from August 24, 1862 at Harper's Ferry, W. Va., where it was surrendered, in September, 1862 at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Ill., from September 28, 1862 in the defenses of Washington, in the 3d Brigade, Casey's Division, 22d Corps, from December, 1862 in the 3d Brigade, 3d Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from June, 1863 in the 3d, and for a time in the Consolidated, Brigade, 1st Division, 2d Corps, Army of the Potomac, from March, 1864 and it was honorably discharged and mustered out, under Lieut. Col. Lewis W. Husk, June 4, 1865, near Alexandria, Va. During its service the regiment lost by death, killed in action, 8 officers, 150 enlisted men of wounds received in action, 2 officers, 65 enlisted men of disease and other causes, 2 officers, 177 enlisted men total, 12 officers, 392 enlisted men aggregate, 404 of whom 2 officers and 74 enlisted men died in the hands of the enemy.

The following is taken from The Union army: a history of military affairs in the loyal states, 1861-65 -- records of the regiments in the Union army -- cyclopedia of battles -- memoirs of commanders and soldiers. Madison, WI: Federal Pub. Co., 1908. volume II.

One Hundred and Eleventh Infantry.&mdashCols., Jesse Segoine, C. Dugald McDougall, Lewis W. Husk Lieut-Cols., Clinton D. Mc-Dougall, Seneca B. Smith, Isaac M. Lusk, Aaron P. Seeley, Lewis W. Husk, Sidney Mead Majs., Seneca B. Smith, Isaac M. Lusk, James H. Hinman, Lewis W. Husk, Joseph W. Corning, Sidney Mead, Reuben J. Meyers. No regiment sent out by the state saw harder service than the gallant 111th. It was organized at Auburn from companies recruited in the counties of Cayuga and Wayne,&mdash the Twenty-fifth senatorial district-and was mustered into the U. S. service, Aug. 20, 1862. It left the city the following day for Harper's Ferry, where it had the misfortune to be surrendered with that ill-fated garrison the following month. The men were paroled at Camp Douglas, Chicago, and in Dec., 1862, were declared exchanged and went into winter quarters at Centerville, Va. Later the regiment was assigned to the 3d (Alex. Hays') brigade, Casey's division, 22nd corps, where it remained until June, 1863. Col. Fox, in his account of the three hundred fighting regiments, speaking of the 111th, says: "On June 25, 1863, the brigade joined the 2nd corps which was then marching by on its way to Gettysburg. The regiment left two companies on guard at Accotink bridge with the remaining eight companies, numbering 390 men, it was engaged at Gettysburg on the second day of the battle, in the brilliant and successful charge of Willard's brigade, losing 58 killed, 177 wounded, and 14 missing total, 249. The regiment did some more good fighting at the Wilderness, where. it lost 42 killed, 119 wounded, and 17 missing total, 178&mdashover half of its effective strength. Its casualties in the fighting around Spottsylvania amounted to 22 killed, 37 wounded, and 13 missing. From Gettysburg until the end, the regiment fought under Hancock in the 2nd corps, participating in every battle of that command. While on the Gettysburg campaign, and subsequently at Bristoe Station, Mine Run and Morton's ford, the regiment was attached to the 3d brigade, 3d division (Alex. Hayes'). Just before the Wilderness campaign it was placed in Frank's (3d) brigade, Barlow's (1st) division. This brigade was composed entirely of New York troops, the 39th, 111th, 125th, and 126th, to which were added in April, 1864, the 52nd and 57th, and later on, the 7th N. Y. all crack fighting regiments." The regiment lost 81 killed and wounded during the final Appomattox campaign. It was mustered out near Alexandria, Va., June 3, 1865. The regiment bore an honorable part in 22 great battles. Its total enrollment during service was 1,780, of whom 10 officers and 210 men were killed and mortally wounded its total of 220 killed and died of wounds is only exceeded by four other N. Y. regiments&mdashthe 69th, 40th, 48th and 121st&mdashand is only exceeded by 24 other regiments in the Union armies. It lost 2 officers and 177 men by disease and other causes&mdashtotal deaths, 404&mdash of whom 2 officers and 74 men died in Confederate prisons.

111th Regiment NY Volunteer Infantry | Guidon | Civil War

This silk swallowtail guidon, used as a marker to assist in battlefield maneuvers, conforms to the “stars and stripes” pattern described in General…

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Col John L. Hardenbergh

Founder of Auburn, New York. A noted commander in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, Colonel Hardenbergh was known ever after by his military title. He had served as a captain in the 2nd Line, 3rd Regiment during Sullivan's Campaign, and was later promoted. Born into an old and distinguished New York family of Dutch origin, he was a surveyor by profession, and in 1793 built a mill on the Owasco Lake outlet in the northern tier of New York's Finger Lakes region. Here he established the village of Hardenbergh's Corners, which became present-day Auburn, capital of Cayuga County.

Auburn was founded in 1793, during the post-Revolutionary period of settlement of western New York. The founder, John L. Hardenbergh, was a veteran of the Sullivan-Clinton campaign against the Iroquois during the American Revolution. Hardenbergh settled in the vicinity of the Owasco River with his infant daughter and two African-American slaves, Harry and Kate Freeman. After his death in 1806, Hardenbergh was buried in Auburn's North Street Cemetery, and was re-interred in 1852 in Fort Hill Cemetery – the first burial in the city's newly-opened burial ground. The community grew up around Hardenbergh's gristmill and sawmill.

Originally known as Hardenbergh's Corners in the town of Aurelius, the settlement was renamed Auburn in 1805 when it became the county seat. It became an incorporated village in 1815, and was chartered as a city in 1848. It was only a few miles from the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825 and allowed local factories to inexpensively ship goods north or south. In 1871, the Southern Central Railroad, financed by the Lehigh Valley Railroad, completed a line primarily to carry coal from Athens, Pennsylvania, through Auburn to wharves on Lake Ontario at Fair Haven.

From 1818 to 1939, Auburn was home to Auburn Theological Seminary, once one of the preeminent theological seminaries in the United States. In 1939, facing financial difficulties as a result of the Great Depression, the seminary moved to the campus of Union Theological Seminary in New York City. The only building from the Auburn Theological Seminary that stands today is Willard Memorial Chapel and the adjacent Welch Memorial Hall on Nelson Street, designed by Andrew Jackson Warner of Rochester, with stained-glass windows and interior decoration by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It is the only complete, unaltered Tiffany chapel interior known to exist.

In 1816, Auburn Prison (now the Auburn Correctional Facility) was founded as a model for the contemporary ideas about treating prisoners, known now as the Auburn System. Visitors were charged a fee for viewing the facility and its inmates. On August 6, 1890, the first execution by the electric chair was carried out at Auburn Prison. Also, in 1901 Leon Czolgosz, assassin of President William McKinley, was executed there. Although the ideas of the Auburn System have been abandoned, the prison continues to serve as a maximum security facility, and is one of the most secure prisons in the continental United States.

Watch the video: Drone Footage of Auburn NY (January 2022).