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The Confederate Town in Upstate New York

We read about various conflicted communities in which the locals did not side with the rest of their state during the Civil War, but Town Line, New York, was a puzzling outlier. This town is nowhere near the South- it’s near the Canadian border, just east of Buffalo. There weren’t any slaves or slaveholders there. The citizenry was almost entirely German immigrants. But for some reason, they voted in 1861 to secede from the Union and join the Confederacy.  

According to New York: A Guide to the Empire State (Federal Writers’ Project, 1940), the dissenting minority referred to the town as a “nest of Copperheads,” threatening them with arrest under charges of sedition and even lynching. Nonetheless, according to oral history, at least five members of newly-Confederate Town Line headed south to join the Army of Northern Virginia, even as twenty residents stayed put and fought for the Union Army.

There are few records about Town Line’s secession, and the names of those who voted for it were not recorded. Add to that the fact that the federal government dealt with Town Line mainly by ignoring it, and you’ve set up somewhat of a historical mystery. Read about the New York community that joined the Confederacy at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: Chriskyddwr)


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