Identifying Suffield Founding Families and their Connection to Slavery and Freedom

My class and I are researching slavery and freedom in 1774, related to Suffield, Connecticut. I first researched the basics to discover that slaves arrived in Suffield as early as 1671. While researching this I discovered that a century later the African American residents of Suffield formed their own church; the Third Baptist Church of Suffield. This is where I would like to focus my research to see if any of the church’s founders were slaves in Connecticut. I tried to find more on this church; however, they have no website or information online discussing their history or founding. I hope to investigate the founder’s backstories through church and state archives to uncover their history and see if there is any correlation to the topic of Suffield slavery. I plan to reach out to the church through social media to inquire about records they may have. While this lead will take time to pursue, I continued my research and discovered that Connecticut had the largest slave population in New England during the time of the American Revolution. For instance, Seth Austin was part of one of the founding families of Suffield, and according to the 1790 census he had 5 slaves, which was the most of any Suffield family at that time. It is likely that he owned multiple slaves of which totaled part of the 37 Slaves listed in the 1774 census. His uncle Anthony Austin not only started the Suffield schooling system in 1796, but was also city commissioner andtown assessor (1). I believe this family should be investigated further as they have strong ties to the founding and development of Suffield. By analyzing the Austin Family tree I found that Anthony Austin’s great-grandson, Moses Austin, and his great-great grandson, Stephen F. Austin, were the founders of the first Anglo Colony in Texas, which became the town of Austin, Texas (2). Another prominent founding family was the King family. The King family had documents of their slaves listed among their cattle. In 1725 Elizabeth King and Anthony Austin were married, combining these two founding families. Considering both families were slave owners and very prominent in the community, I believe they may have archival evidence shedding some light on the slavery in Suffield. To investigate this theory further I looked into these families and their connections to fighting for freedom, and discovered men from both families were minutemen in the Battle of Lexington. Minutemen were civilians who organized and trained themselves to fight in battles during the Revolutionary War, supporting my hypothesis that they fought for freedom (3).

  1. xbattle-of-lexington-1815-german-book-wcpd-jpg-pagespeed-ic-f2cs8ipjdz

    http://www.suffieldct.gov/content/10058/10064/default.aspx

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ctahgp/hartford/1790/slaves.htm

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/families/austin.htm

  1. https://www.geni.com/people/Capt-Anthony-Austin/6000000000632505996

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/families/king.htm

  1. https://archive.org/stream/waroftherevolution00recorich/waroftherevolution00recorich_djvu.txt
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5 thoughts on “Identifying Suffield Founding Families and their Connection to Slavery and Freedom

  1. robj1313

    This post is very well written has some great information on the founding families of Suffield. Do we know why the Austin family had so many slaves, did they own a farm? To polish off the post, it may be better if the picture was on top.

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  2. reekoh5

    There is a lot of information on the families in Suffield. Is there any info on the African American residents in Suffiled? If the picture was wrapped around the text

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  3. harryhildreth

    This post is very well written, However its also a very interesting topic. It will be great to find more information on this to see the extent of the connections the founding families of Suffield had.

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  4. Nadezda

    Hello,Tanner!
    I liked how you started the blogpost explaining our class and final goal. I think, it might be very helpful for people who have not heard about our class.
    The information that your found about the town and Austin is very interesting and well-studied.
    Why do you think the Third Baptist Church is somehow related to our topic?
    I would love to see a hook in the end of the post.
    Thank you!

    Like

    Reply

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