UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR-TV) — In 1820 Samuel Dove was born into slavery in Virginia. Eventually his owners sold him to settle a debt, so he his mother and siblings were all separated.

“Sam says they were ripped from each other’s arms. It’s just so heartbreaking.” – Deirdre Sinnott, Oneida County Freedom Commission

Dove is bought and sold several times and eventually marries his wife America. While at a plantation in Mississippi he’s tricked into breaking a rule but fights back and stabs the overseer. His punishment was 200 lashes which he receives over 2 days. Dove is then traded again and his wife is sold to a man named John Munn.

“John Munn, his family, the children, and America all come up and make their way to Utica. Sam meanwhile is left.” – Deirdre Sinnott, Oneida County Trail Freedom Commission

He eventually makes it Utica in the late 1840’s but was forced to leave their son Jesse behind. Dove picks up several jobs like cutting up wood and fueling the train at the New York central railroad.

“He’s very deeply involved in life in Utica. He becomes the first African-American to be a member of an organized fire brigade.” – Deirdre Sinnott, Oneida County Freedom Trail Commission

After 10 years of working hard, taking out a mortgage on his home and help from friends, dove was able to buy back his son out of slavery in 1859.

“He arrives, he’s 19, he’s healthy. 15 months after he gets here he gets sick and dies.” – Deirdre Sinnott, Oneida County Freedom Trail Commission

Then Dove’s wife America dies 2 years later. Years later he remarries but never stopped looking for the rest of his family. Dove passed away in 1904 but his legacy continues to live on.