Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Finney, Seymour

A tailor by trade during the 1800’s, Seymour Finney was a supporter of the abolitionist movement in the Detroit area.  In 1850, Finney began to run a tavern near Capitol Park, and soon after, a hotel in the same area.  A block away, Finney owned a stable at the northeast corner of State and Griswold where many runaway slaves hid while trying to escape to Canada for their freedom.

Being sympathetic to the abolitionist movement, Seymour was a key stationmaster on the Underground Railway route.  Detroit was one of the most important "stations" en route to Canada; if a fugitive reached this city, he was comparatively safe.  While freedom seekers hid in Seymour’s stable, the slave catchers that were in the tavern were drowning their sorrows in liquor or cavorting with Finney’s provided prostitutes, many times lamenting that they could not find whoever it was they were after.  Finney would tell the pursuers that he sympathized with how difficult their jobs must be, while all the time hiding the people they were looking for.

Written by Stacy Newman