Timbuctoo, New York

timbuktoo newyork

Timbuctoo, New York

“In a small rural cemetery here, a white marble gravestone is the only evidence of a moment in New York State’s history that few people have heard of,

Buried there are the remains of Lyman Epps, a sheep farmer and the most prominent settler of Timbuctoo, a black pre-Civil-War hamlet in the Adirondacks that offered thousands of black men from Brooklyn to Buffalo 40 acres of free land, a gift from a white abolitionist real estate baron.

The abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, gave away 120,000 acres of his land, beginning in 1846, hoping the Adirondack wilderness would offer refuge to black families eager to leave the poverty of urban cities and to acquire the means to vote….” (Christian, Nichole, “North Elba Journal; Recalling Timbuctoo, A Slice of Black History.” New York Times, February 19, 2002)

The name Timbuctoo recalls the famous town in the Mali Empire in West Africa.

Timbuktu, Mali

“Home of the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other madrasas, Timbuktu was an intellectual and spiritual capital and a centre for the propagation of Islam throughout Africa in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its three great mosques, Djingareyber, Sankore and Sidi Yahia, recall Timbuktu’s golden age.”  World Heritage Convention



Ancient Manuscripts from the Desert Libraries of Timbuktu.” Library of Congress Exhibition. July 25, 2003. Accessed October 8, 2010.

Christian, Nichole, “North Elba Journal; Recalling Timbuctoo, A Slice of Black History.” New York Times, February 19, 2002.

Goodine, Amy. The Making of an Exhibit.” Voices, Journal of New York Folklore. Vol.29, Summer- Spring, 2013.

Hunwick, John. and Alida Jay Boye. The Hidden Treasures of Timbuktu : Rediscovering Africa’s Literary Culture. Thames & Hudson, 2008.

Jeppie, Shamil and Souleymane Bachir Diagne. The Meanings of Timbuktu. Human Sciences, Research Council, 2008.

Kessler, Cristina. Trouble in Timbuktu.  Philomel Books, 2009.

Maseko, Zola. 
The Manuscripts of Timbuktu. California Newsreel, 2009.


Photo credit: The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York