Author Archives: bsullivan35

About bsullivan35

I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.

What Happened in Your Town During WWI?

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What was the home front experience of your town during WWI?

How can we imagine daily life in Suffield during WWI? The state-wide commemorative process for the 100th anniversary of WWI provides #CAISCT students and teachers  an opportunity to investigate the local history in their area. There is also an opportunity to connect with local historical societies who are already geared up to curate information for the anniversary. Moreover, looking into home front conditions will naturally network  #CAISCT students and teachers with other Connecticut historians to discover the best historical methods to uncover more original history. So connect with us on this #CAISCT #PBL blog and start “doing history” in your community. Consider this another form of service learning if you share what you learn with your community. This year’s investigation about life one hundred years ago in your town will also help you appreciate how this global event propelled our region and nation into the modern era.

Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class, which is a winter/spring trimesters project-based learning elective to seniors, will share everything they learn about the home front in Suffield on this blog and invite other Connecticut students to do the same about their town! Let’s together create Connecticut history on this great collaborative platform (blog) and “do original” history story about this complex topic!

#PBL Mantra: Share what you learn and show how you learned it.

The Suffield Academy American Studies class will present their findings at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society. Click here for more:

Stay tune for more!



Digging into Richard Fortune’s Whole Story Part II, 1 of 3 Images 2 of 3

Researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut has evolved into a powerful and important partnership of public history. With help from an independent genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society combined with help from the National Mall Liberty Fund in Washington, DC, I was able to examine more information about Richard Fortune. The National Mall Liberty Fund DC sent us a URL of an amazing and far-reaching text, Forgotten Patriots, published by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in 2008. Here’s a URL for the text; wait a few moments for the URL to load on your computer. You can then perform searches of key words. Searching Suffield will help you find the information about Richard Fortune as well as a “Titus” from Suffield as well as two other African-American soldiers we know more information about, Cesar Negro and Titus Kent.

Click here for a pdf that shows the DAR Sources for Richard Fortune in the important text, Forgotten Patriots.

Simultaneously, a member from the Suffield Historical Society, sent us a most important clue about a letter written by General Israel Putnam’s son who testified to Richard Fortune’s long service, which included Fortune signing up again for service.

Again, below is  from a classmate who found the National Mall Liberty Fund link that my classmate discovered in the winter:  See page 5 of 5 of this pdf published by the Liberty Fund organization.

The genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society clues also lead us more to the eastern Connecticut story of Richard Fortune. Our initial search discovered his alias as well as someone from eastern Connecticut writing a letter on his behalf when Richard Fortune sought his pension in 1818. Our slide show presents that information:

If any reader knows more about Richard Fortune or has a suggestion for a source that will help our research, please leave a comment on this post. I will get an email notifying me of your comment and look forward to learning more.

Below is my first attempt at transcribing the letter; please comment any suggestions where I have a question mark by a word or let me know if I made a mistake with a word.

Jabez CLARK, esquire Brooklyn 1818
Sir I received a line from you on Saturday last request on info regarding the services of Richard fortune, a black man in the army of the Revolution. This man has the commencement of the war was slave, belonging to general Putnam. In December 1775 he was ordered by his master ??? And entered as a soldier in Durkus(?) Regiment as that time ??? For the continental? He was taken from the regiment into the family of his master as a servant and continued with him until April 1777 remaining in the Munster rolls, and drawing pay as a soldier in that regiment. Some time in April 1777 under the promise of freedom as the close of the war he enlisted again in the same regiment and continued as a servant in general Putnam’s (family?) till about the first of April 1779 when he was discharged from service. When I state his services in General Putnam’s family it is to be understood his military family in Corps where he served with such fidelity and good conduct as to obtain?? An honorable discharge from the army had also from (?) Claims of his master.
I state these facts from my own knowledge having hear myself an aide de camp to (?) General Putnam and services in his family most of the (?)(?) In service in the time of the Revolution
I am respectfully (?)
Your servant (?)
David Putnam

#PBL Opportunity For CAIS Learners

On April 18th Suffield Academy American Studies class gave a presentation to Connecticut Historical Society during its April meeting. Students reflected on questions that were asked, and some things that did not go as smooth as we wanted them to go. Here are some of the thoughts the group shared between each other after presentation was done.

During our presentation every student knew what he or she were doing and talking about. We all have mastered our topic and new every little part of our slides. On the other side we were not very familiar with topics that did not touch our area of research – that could have resulted in a problem if someone would not show up due to any possible circumstances. Presentation was done very well, and each of us had spent good time and effort in order to finish it.

Still we had some problems with the slides on the day of presentation – I think for future it would be better to practice giving presentation at least once in the facility we are going to present it. Also to make presentation more neat I think each student needs to keep a list of websites/books he or she had used to make their slides. After everyone is done with their part, we all could compose a big bibliography of material we have used. Bibliography will help us navigate in our sources and anyone who would look at our presentation can find them useful in order to check our information, or to use it for their purposes.



Suffield Academy Students Present at Suffield Historical Society Meeting on April 18th


Boston Tea Party Painting from US Capitol

What Happened in Suffield during 1774?

A free lecture from 7:00-8:00pm on April 18th at Suffield’s Senior Center, 145 Bridge Street. Suffield Academy Students will present about the complexities of 1774 during the Suffield Historical Society Meeting.

In response to the Boston Tea Party (1773), Parliament drafted the Coercive Acts in 1774, and residents throughout the thirteen colonies protested these acts in various ways. In the western town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Colonel Ashley hosted citizens at his house, and that group composed the Sheffield Resolves. Interestingly, one of his slaves, Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was inspired by these conversations of protest and later sued successfully for her own freedom.

What happened in Suffield during the pivotal year of 1774? What part of the population supported the growing patriot cause in Boston? What portion of citizens accepted the dictates of the British Parliament? Who was neutral? The year 1774 also marked the highest recorded number of slaves in Connecticut, 6,464. What effect did these turbulent times have on the 37 enslaved Africans in Suffield?

Suffield Academy’s American Studies class looks forward to sharing what they learned about the complexities of freedom and slavery in Suffield during 1774. All Society meetings are open to the public, and newcomers are most welcome. SA.Presentation.Flyer-4-18-2017

We’re Writing #CTHistory & We Need Your Help

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Suffield Resolves, July 4th, 1774

We’re writing Connecticut History, and we need your help.

Between the Boston Tea Party and “the shot heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord spans the most important introductory chapter of American history that many history books passover and rush to the Declaration of Independence. Did you know that eighteen towns in Connecticut wrote Resolves to support the residents of Boston after Parliament closed the port.

Lesson plan #1: ask students to do research about your area in between the Boston Tea Party and Lexington and Concord events. Then ask them to try to read and understand the set of resovles document from your area.

Ashford, Brooklyn, East Haddam, Farmington, Glassenburry (colonial spelling), Groton, Hartford, Lyme, Middletown, New Haven, Norwich, Pomfret, Preston, Salisbury and Stonington, Suffield, Wethersfield, Windham and Woodstock. Click here to view your town’s resolves:

Can you find out more about the citizens who gathered to discuss and agree upon these results? What portion of the population in your area supported the loyalist cars in 1774? Because these conversations about human rights and freedom or pervasive throughout the colonies what effect did this spirit have on the African-American population in your hometown? Want to know the African-American population in your town, click on the Colony of Connecticut Census from 1774, pp. 484-492. Look up your town and begin investigating.   

Lesson Plan #2: Did any African-Americans listed in the 1774 colony of Connecticut senses later respond to the Lexington alarm? Or did they later and list to fight not only for the Continental Army but for the freedom?  Did any fight in the American Revolution? Click here and scroll down for exact names and towns of African-American veterans.

This link will help you find your county and town statistics:

Every town in Connecticut by law provides access to town records. What do your town records report on this issue in 1774? This could be a fun little field trip to investigate.

A class at Suffield Academy recently discovered a great deal of information about the turbulent and pivotal year of 1774. You can read more about their discoveries on this blog that you are visiting:  Their public presentation slides from an April 19th program are here:

Join us in planning a symposium at the Connecticut Historical Society later this spring where we share what we learned and show how he learned it. Look for a sign process soon. In the meantime, you can facilitate other primary source documents on this blog or at your local historical society to help us collaborate and write the complex Connecticut history of 1774.