was born on October 3rd, 1789 in the town of Whitehall in Washington
County. He was one of fifteen children of Gideon and Hannah Searl.
His biography in Everts, 1879 described him as having an inbred
love of truth and ever a faithful devotee at honor's shrine in all
the social, civil, financial and political relations of life.
In July 1811 he married Martha Hotchkiss and moved to Warsaw in
Wyoming County in 1816. In the fall of 1817 he relocated to Franklinville
and lived on the ground later covered by the Globe Hotel, now the
site of the Community Bank.
The following year he erected a log cabin on the north part of lot
35 and northwest corner of lot 27 in township 4, range 4. It's been
written that he was "prudent and economical, a charitable giver
and a prompt paymaster; the needy never went empty-handed from his
door, the latch-string of which was always out to the beknighted
wayfarer and neighboring pioneer."
He fathered nine children and his sons followed in his footsteps.
The Searl Family was considered among the best farmers in Ischua
Valley and model gentlemen and Christians. He was also a veteran
of the War of 1812.
In 1837 Isaac made a profession of religion and united with the
Baptist Church in Franklinville.
In 1929, Alfred Rice, a former school teacher in East Aurora, revealed
a deep and carefully guarded secret to his son. Alfred was the last
surviving conductor on the Underground Railroad who helped transport
the escaping slaves who had sought refuge in Cattaraugus County.
Before his death he named the people in Cadiz who had participated
in the Underground Railroad. They included Merlin Mead, Isaac Searl,
John Burlingame and the owner of the Stagecoach Inn.
He said that runaway slaves were rafted down Ischua Creek and hidden
in Cadiz by these families. At this time hiding and abetting slaves
was a federal offense and punishments could include heavy fines,
loss of property and imprisonment. Neighbors and family who failed
to report such activity on the Underground Railroad faced these
same punishments and fines, even if they did not actively participate.
Secrecy was of the utmost importance to protect the members of the
community who chose to be involved in the Underground Railroad.
These secrets were kept until well into the twentieth century.
In Cattaraugus County members of the Baptist and Presbyterian Church
were the most active Abolitionists and people who were involved
in assisting the slaves. Isaac Searl's daughter married John Burlingame
that indicated that there was a family connection with this activity.
Isaac Searl, a prominent and successful farmer, risked everything
for a cause he fervently believed in – the freedom of all
men. He died on April 11th, 1860 without learning that the approaching
Civil War would lead to the cause he believed in.
The final accolade to this brave man was that "he left a legacy
richer by far – that of a blameless life and spotless reputation
and the passerby may pause at his grave and truthfully say "Here
lies all that can die of the noblest work of God – an honest
man." He is buried in the Cadiz Cemetery.
Information on his life was obtained from History of Cattaraugus
County New York, 1879 by L. H. Everts.