Rochester’s Roots: Austin Steward

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC celebrates Black History Month by honoring the people and places that have paved the way for many in the Rochester area.

Born in the 1790s in Virginia, Austin Steward moved to Wayne County as a slave. He eventually escaped to Canandaigua to later legally become free through the state’s gradual emancipation law.

Steward moved to Rochester around 1817, and despite violent opposition, he opened a meat market on South Main Street, the first known black-owned business in the city.

When Steward’s business burned down in 1842, he moved back to Canandaigua, where he died in 1865.

He is buried in West Avenue Cemetery.