In my first blog, I wrote about Godfrey Malbone who, owning a 3000 acres farm in Pomfret, Ct with 27 slaves, was long thought to be the largest slave owner in Connecticut. However, during my research, I found out about an even larger plantation located in Salem, CT (“in what was then Lyme” CT). This plantation was 13,000 acres, had 60 slave families, and was owned by a wealthy Salem, Mass., merchant, Col. Samuel Browne. Browne never lived on the land, but he hired overseers. He rented out large tracts but retained about 4,000 acres for himself that passed to his son and then his grandson.
The site of Browne’s plantation is being explored by archeologists from Central Connecticut State University, and the lead researcher is Gerald Sawyer.
“For perspective on the Salem plantation, Sawyer refers to new research done by anthropologist Robert Fitts in southern Rhode Island, an area better known for having had slave plantations. Combing Colonial records, Fitts found that most Rhode Island plantations had fewer than a dozen slaves, numbers similar to those in Virginia’s famed Tidewater region and that only three had as many as 19 slaves.”
Sawyer’s excavations of the Salem plantation have unearthed artifacts believed to be from “known African-American ritual practice” and burial customs.
Lang, Joel. “Chapter One: The Plantation Next Door.” Courant.com. N.p., 12 July 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2017. <http://www.courant.com/news/special-reports/hc-plantation.artsep29-story.html>.
Schwartz, Sydney. “Yankee Slavery.” Archaeology Archive. Volume 54, Number 5, September/October 2001.
Photo Credit: http://archive.archaeology.org/image.php?page=0109/