The city of Auburn sits at the northern end of Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. A city rich with history and tradition, Auburn is highlighted by grand old homes like the Seward House, home of William H. Seward, Secretary of State in the administrations of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. While the city is small, it offers attractions ranging from summer college baseball and waterfront recreation to theaters, museums and annual events.
Auburn was originally inhabited by the Tuscarora Indians, members of the Iroquois League. The area remained Iroquois territory until it was taken over by European settlers. In the late 1700s, Captain John Hardenbergh, a Revolutionary War veteran, settled near present day City Hall where he built a cabin and gristmill. Soon, several mills, a stagecoach stop, and a tavern sprang up on the Owasco Outlet. The settlement became known as Hardenbergh’s Corners. By 1810, there were fourteen mills along the Owasco Outlet which produced items like linseed and sunflower oil. The town’s name changed to Auburn in 1805 when it became the county seat. The name Auburn was derived from a poem by Oliver Goldsmith called “Deserted Village.”
In 1858 New York Senator William Seaward made Harriet Tubman a proposition and sold his property to her for $1200. Auburn had a strong abolitionist group and Seaward was a well known supporter of the Underground Railroad. Before the Civil War about 500 slaves passed through Auburn on their way north. In 1896 Tubman bought 25 acres of land adjacent to her property located at 182 South Street. The land was sold for $1,450 with the help of AME Zion Church and with the support of a local bank providing a mortgage Tubman was able to begin realizing her dream of opening a home for the elderly. On June 23, 1908 the Harriet Tubman Home for the Elderly was inaugurated. Tubman died in 1913.