STOP 6 - Francis Shaw House

Beers 1874 West New Brighton Map. Courtesy of the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

An influential philanthropist, Francis George Shaw inherited his father's wealth, enabling him to pursue his passions: social reform, the abolition of slavery, and politics. By the mid-1850s Shaw and his family were living in Richmond County, beginning the flow of abolitionists to the island, many of whom, like Shaw, were expatriates from New England.


Along with Sydney Howard Gay and George William Curtis, Shaw started the first Republican Office on Staten Island, and the three became the most influential representatives of the new anti-slavery politics in Richmond County. They were also among those extremely outspoken national abolitionists who believed in applying pressure on the President (Lincoln). To further the connections these men shared, Shaw's daughter, Anna, married George W. Curtis.


According to Shaw's obituary, written by his wife and children, he was a part of the Underground Railroad. This mention of him assisting the enslaved, along with his close relationship with Sydney H. Gay and others on Staten Island, makes it highly likely he was indeed helping the Underground Railroad. In addition, he was a wealthy man, and would therefore have been able to fund those helping the freedom seekers, such as conductors like Louis Napoleon, who was paid by Gay and Horace Greeley. 

Frances G Shaw. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.