Author Archives: fordmf

Farmington CT’s Complex History of Colonial History.

Mikey Ford

Stanley-Whitman House

            During colonial times, Connecticut had many enslaved people. In fact, the history of slavery in Connecticut is very long. As author Douglas Harper points out in his research on Northern slavery, there were enslaved people mentioned living in Connecticut well before 1700. In a collective research project being conducted by the Stanley-Whitman House, it is recorded that, from 1749 to 1774, the Connecticut Colony had the most in New England. Moreover, slavery in Connecticut included the town of Farmington. Interestingly, this nineteenth century abolitionist enclave actually has a long history of colonial slavery in the town. The Stanley-Whitman House found that between the years 1750 and 1774, 38 people living in Farmington were enslaved. While the Stanley-Whitman House does not specifically mention the Underground Railroad, they also found that many people from Farmington were abolitionists. In 1784, shortly after the Revolutionary War, Connecticut passed a law that would allow for gradual emancipation. Additionally, Atlas Obscura describes how several of the Africans in the Amistad Case ended up in Farmington. As explained by, these Africans were originally from Sierra Leone but were captured and brought to Cuba, where they were sold to Spaniards. One of the Africans managed to take over the ship and demanded that they head back to Africa. However, the ship was seized back and actually brought to America. Atlas Obscura explains that, after being held for over two years in a jailhouse in Connecticut, abolitionists managed to get them freed. They were brought to Farmington until funds were raised to prosecute their legal case and for them to get home.

Depiction of Amistad from newspaper





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The Life of Joseph Munn, an Unrecognized Hero


The Battle of Bemis Heights
First Battle of Saratoga (Battle of Bemis Heights)

Joseph Munn enlisted as a private in 1776. While a soldier, Joseph Munn fought in the regiment of Colonel Thaddeus Cook. This regiment fought in both battles of Saratoga. These took place September 19, 1777 and October 7, 1777. What’s even more amazing is that Munn fought throughout the entire Revolutionary War. 

            The petition that Joseph Munn made for his freedom was actually during his time in the army as a private. He did not just make a petition for his own freedom; he also argued slavery’s existence in general. The source of his petition that I got is an excellent and knowledgable one with very useful information. It was created by Raechel Guest, a Waterbury historian. He also implies that he got stolen from Africa, his homeland. The beginning of his petition is below.

“The Petition of Joseph Munn, a poor African Humbly sheweth that your unfortunate Petitioner, while but a Child, was Snatched by the hand of Fraud and violence from his Native Land and all his dear Connexions and brought into this Land, and notwithstanding by the Constitution of the Great Parent of the Universe who hath made of one blood all Nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, he was in Common with others entitled to Freedom and the unalienable rights of Humanity, yet in Violation thereof he was Sold a Slave for Life….”

By reading about the definition of slavery from other enslaved African Americans, I have learned major things about African American history in the colonial era. The first significant thing is that greed had major power during the time. This aspect of human nature is partly what drove the institution of slavery. With Salem Poor, the only way that he got freed from his master was by paying him off. Additionally, I have learned about the act of joining the British side for freedom that many African Americans followed. Stephan Blucke and Deborah Squash sought freedom however best they possibly could.

The main driving factor in my decision to have Joseph Munn as my research figure is that he lived in Connecticut. While his main location, Waterbury, Connecticut is not very close to my hometown, he was also associated with the Town of Farmington, which is only about ten minutes away from my house. When I found out he was in the Revolutionary War, I decided to pursue research on him. Throughout my research, I have been very fascinated by his life. I found out that he was born in Africa and that he actually fought during the entirety of the war, as a Private in Thaddeus Cook’s Regiment. This includes both battles of Saratoga, two of the most important and significant battles in the entire Revolutionary War. However, I was very disappointed to find out that his life took a turn for the worse after he fought in the war. He ended up losing the little he had for owing shillings, and never got his freedom after a heartfelt petition.


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Can You Help With Our Investigation of Joseph Munn?

Joseph Munn’s Petition for freedom.

Joseph Munn was an enslaved man in Connecticut. He was originally from Africa, where he was captured and taken to America as a child, forced into slavery. Later on, he became a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He was with several masters while under enslavement. Initially, he was sold to Thomas Seymour of Hartford, Connecticut. His second master was William Nichols. He was later sold to another master in Waterbury, Thomas Hickcox, the cousin of Nichols. Nichols’ estate was confiscated, so Hickox took it over. Munn Joined the war in 1776. Unfortunately, things did not go well for Munn from that point on. A petition he made for his freedom earlier on was voted against. In addition, he was sued by a man named Chanuncey Deming for owing shillings, and lost the little possessions he had.


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Driving Questions:

  • What was his specific reason for fighting in the war?
  • What impact did the war have on him?

Pine Grove Schoolhouse, a Fine Suburban Gem

The Pine Grove Schoolhouse from the outside.

The Pine Grove Schoolhouse is a historical sight and former school in Avon, Connecticut. It was first opened in 1865. It was built at a price of $1,538.34. The school was highly praised. As a matter of fact, Henry Barnard, a 19th century education reformer from Connecticut, thought of it as the best school in Connecticut. The school was later named Pine Grove School by the students, who came from several towns adjacent to Avon. It was a school until 1949.

After its closing, the schoolhouse was operated as a branch library, a nursery school, and a meeting school for Explorer Scouts. Additionally, it was used for choir rehearsal for a local church. It underwent several restorations, the first one being in 1975. It was set up as an early 20th century schoolhouse, with visiting hours. The outhouse was restored in 2012, and an informational kiosk was added in 2014. This was for an Eagle Scout project. It still stands today as a symbol of the rich history of Avon and its surrounding towns. It remains a historical representation of schoolhouses in the early 20th century. This provides Avon with place-based learning (PBE), where citizens can learn by really being there and not just learning from technology. This provides a deeper learning experience. Ever since it was built in 1865, the Pine Grove Schoolhouse has remained untouched, as to protect its precious history.

Disclaimer: Please feel free to correct me on any mistakes.