Dear administrator of Congressional Church of Southwick,
I am a Suffield Academy student, and as a class, we are doing project based learning class and a presentation in Suffield historical society on Underground Railroad, especially about the Flora’s kidnapping case. The Flora’s case is about a married black woman and being kidnapped and sold as slaves. There are different storylines derived from Flora’s case during our research; one of the most significant clue is her husband, Exeter, while he was on his journey searching for Flora. By searching the information from the book Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, 2nd edition, we found that Exeter’s birth and death records may be stored in Congressional Church of Southwick, 1775-1814, composed by Joseph Carvalho III. Could you please help us investigate Exeter’s history? Does your archive have the record for Exeter’s baptism and his death or his marriage record? Or if you can provide any extra information to help us verify Exeter’s identity?
In our previous investigation, we also found a book, Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England, written by Catherine Adams and Elizabeth H. Pleck, which provides a glimpse about Exeter’s attempt to free his wife, Flora. We learned that Exeter searched for Flora, walked from Suffield and Southwick to New York without any efficient transportation during that time and died without anyone knowing anything. If we can prove that the Exeter mentioned in the Church’s record is the one we are searching for, Exeter’s baptism and death record may be our new start point to discover more information about him. In the future, we hope to find out what happen during his journey, who did he meet, and how did he die. Furthermore, according to the historical documents, Exeter experienced two appeals, one in the lower court and the other in the Massachusetts Superior Court. Exeter won the first appeal because the local judges know that Hanchett, the man who kidnapped Flora, was a villain in on the boarder between Suffield and Southwick; however, Exeter lost the second one because the case was judged based on the state law at that time, in which claimed slave holders still possessed the slaves after their marriages. Therefore, we aim to find the deposition and the court document about these two trials because any details or resources may be a key factor in determining what happened during Flora’s kidnapping case. This project requires a lot of research skills and critical thinking skills because we never know if the information we find is authentic or explicable, and it’s hard to find any paper form documents due to its long history. If you can please provide any clues, this will be a huge progress in our research.
Suffield Academy 16’
- “Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England.”Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
- FLORA’S PLIGHT: A MONTGOMERY COUNTY FREEDOM SUIT
- Pictured from : http://mass.historicbuildingsct.com/?p=2905