Hezekiah Joslyn (1757–1865) was a physician, a nationally known abolitionist, and the father of woman’s rights leader Matilda Joslyn Gage. (Nineteenth-century practice was to use the singular, woman's, when referring to women as a class; later practice was to use the plural, women's.)
Dr. Joslyn arrived in Cicero in 1823, where he purchased a retiring doctor’s practice. Two years later he married Helen Leslie, an accomplished musician. They established what was for the time and place a most elegant household, on a site along what is now Brewerton Road. The house boasted rich carpets, fine-quality furniture, and a piano imported from England, one of the first such instruments in Onondaga County. In 1826, the couple welcomed their daughter Matilda Electa Joslyn, who was born in the house.
A staunch abolitionist, Joslyn made his home a station on the Underground Railroad. His associates in this work included Gerrit Smith; the mercurial John Anderson Collins, who would soon abandon abolitionism to found an ill-fated utopian community at Skaneateles; and Alexander Campbell, who would found the Campbellites, a forerunner of the Seventh Day Adventists.
As Matilda grew up in Cicero, Hezekiah Joslyn provided her with rich experiences seldom given to a daughter. He taught her physiology and anatomy; frequently she would ride alongside him on his medical rounds to outlying communities. When she was older he attempted unsuccessfully to secure her admission to a medical school. Matilda Joslyn Gage later wrote of her father’s tutelage: “If there has been one education of more value to me than all others, it was the training I received from my father to think for myself.”
By 1850, Joslyn had left Cicero. It is unknown what happened to the house thereafter or when it was demolished. The site today houses a recreational vehicle dealer.
Joslyn died on October 30, 1865, at the Fayetteville home of his daughter Matilda. He was buried in Cicero, in a hillside graveyard less than a thousand feet from the site of his Cicero home.