While many in town know the story of Old Ti, who was a slave for the Gay family and then manumitted with his two sisters in 1812. Legend, lore, and history tell his story well in town including Joseph Pease’s account book that lists the 5 dollar fee for his coffin in Old Center Cemetery. Because this year’s class focussed on women’s history, classmates discovered a great deal of information about Old Ti’s sisters. We discovered great information about Jenny who lived and worked at the Parson’s Tavern in Springfield, MA. Now we just recently discovered potential pieces of her narrative puzzle in documents from the Watkinson family history. Again, our starting source was this blog post from the winter: https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2019/01/26/african-slavery-in-suffield/
If anyone knows another angle of this narrative, please share by commenting below or reaching out to us on Twitter. Thx!
Through some valuable information from Springfield Museums, our class found that Ginny Gay was later named Jennie Gay. Due to this discovery, it made things much easier for us to uncover more. We have sources that provided us with the knowledge that Jennie Gay worked at the Parsons Tavern when she was in her teens. Jennie was born in 1777, and worked for Eleazer Williams at the Parsons Tavern. Jennie worked as a cook here, which was a very uncommon job amongst African-American women. Jennie likely worked that this hotel/tavern for over ten years – until the early 1800’s. Our previous hypothetical ideas of Jennie working at the Massasoit House (A hotel for runaway slaves in Springfield), is lacking evidence. Jennie working at this underground railroad hotel is not impossible, but there is a lack of evidence depicting that she worked here as she was not part of the consensus. Jennie would have been in her mid-sixties by the time the Massasoit House was built in 1843 (after the railroad made its way through Springfield). Jennie passed away at the age of 83 due to “lung fever” one January 16th, 1860. This hotel clearly had great significance with its location as it was on route from New York to Boston; it housed president George Washington for a night whilst he was on his way to Boston; a year later, president James Monroe also stayed the night there. Now, we will be looking more into the Parson’s family and try to uncover more information on them as a whole. Also, I personally will be attempting to make a statement to rewrite the plaque written in commemoration of the tavern. I will need to
See Below – This is the Twitter conversation we had with multiple historians in order to find more information on Jennie Gay and the Parson’s Tavern.
At Suffield Academy, along with the majority of the United States, woman were not allowed to play in any major sports such as baseball, basketball or tennis due to the fact that they were considered “male sports”. In the early 1970’s, woman were again granted into Suffield Academy making it no longer an all-boys school. Soon later, woman were allowed to play in the same sports that men were, regardless of what the sport may be. In 1972, a civil rights act (Title IX or Title 9) allowed women to have equal opportunity in education along with playing the same sports as men do. An activist movement also resulted in colleges supplying equal funding for women’s sports as done for men’s. As an example of women excelling in sports due to this change; Billie Jean King was a female tennis player who received $10,000 for her victory in the U.S Open Final versus the male winner who won $25,000. The year after this, she faced a male player named Bobby Riggs for a prize of $100,000 and was victorious; this competition was not official but was simply for “bragging rights”. This was a huge step for women in sports as it portrayed the image that women can do what men do. Overall, Suffield Academy allowing women to partake in major sports so early on is quite remarkable as it took a long time for the entire country to follow along with this movement.
Driving Question: I would like to know, when were the women’s sports teams able to play against other schools in major sports? In other words, when did other schools change in the way Suffield did?
Required Skills: Analytical skills along with some statistical skills.