The Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Church will host several Catherine Harris Day services starting Saturday.
A mystery dinner will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 509 Prendergast Ave., Jamestown. The cost is a $20 donation, with the person correctly solving the mystery winning a prize.
During the dinner, members of the Underground Railroad Tableau Committee will be recognized. The tableau, located at the corner of Washington and Sixth streets, Jamestown, is a diorama composed of three life-sized bronze figures commemorating Jamestown's participation in the Underground Railroad. It honors Jamestown's most notable Underground Railroad participants: Catherine Harris and Silas Shearman, with the third figure an anonymous fugitive slave representing all the fugitives who came through Jamestown in pursuit of freedom.
The committee includes Inez Alston, Bob and Pat Dickey, Russ Diethrick, Florence Hinson, Vickye James, Susan Kalfas, George Lawn, Paul Leone, Diane Peterson, Dr. Georgianna Stewart, Lula and Vivian Taylor, David Shepherd and B. Delores Thompson.
On Sunday, the 11 a.m. service will be at Blackwell Chapel, 610 Spring St., Jamestown, with a message by Pastor Betty Williams, assistant pastor of Elim Christian Fellowship in Buffalo. At 5 p.m. Sunday, the Rev. George C. Woodruff of the Durham Church Choir at Durham Memorial AME Zion Church in Buffalo will be featured.
For more information, call the Rev. Sharon Baugh, Blackwell AME Zion Church, at 472-3532 or Inez Alston, chairperson, at 397-4871.
Catherine Harris was a conductor of the Underground Railroad and was one of the few African-American women to maintain a station. Born in 1809 in Meadville, she was free-born black who came to Jamestown in 1831. She built a small frame house on Seventh Street just north of the village and close to the village cemetery. By 1860, Jamestown was home to about 100 African Americans. Most lived in the settlement near Mrs. Harris.
In 1881, her home became the site of the first African-American church in Jamestown, the AME Zion Church. The church moved to its present location and is now the historic Blackwell Chapel AME Zion Church.