Richard Fortune Record in Ancestry.com
Researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut, I was able to come across Richard Fortune from a classmate who found this source: http://libertyfunddc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HARTFORD-COUNTY-BACKGROUND-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-RESOLUTION.pdf See page 5 of 5 of this pdf published by the Liberty Fund organization.
While we have no other source that proves Richard Fortune was from Suffield in 1774 or prior to 1774, he is clearly listed on this source. We are in the process of verifying with the research that places Richard Fortune in Suffield, Ct.
Nevertheless, we discovered a great deal about Richard Fortune’s life during and after the Revolutionary War. He entered into the army at the age of around 18. Below are bullet points on more information we have on Richard Fortune.
- Was Born in 1747
- Fought in Revolutionary War
- African American soldier that lived in Suffield
- Lived in Berlin CT as well
- Wrote a petition for pension on April 8th 1818
- Was a Private in the War
- Married Dinah Fortune
- Died at the age of 88
- Death date April 7th 1835
- Died in Hampton, CT
This is all the info we have on him but it seems to be after the war. Do you have any information on him before, during or after the Revolutionary War?
While Titus Kent is an African-American Revolutionary War veteran recognized on Suffield Veterans Memorial, a classmate discovered that a Richard Fortune fought in the Connecticut Regiment, and he is listed as being from Suffield. This discovery made me reflect on my previous research where I read Katherine Harris’ introduction in African American Connecticut Explored, where she opens the collection of history with this reflection: “The coexistence of freedom and slavery shape the lives of people of African descent from their first arrival in the Connecticut colony.” I then read David O White’s work, Revolutionary War Service; Path to Freedom in the collection and began more research on Richard Fortune.
We were able to get more in depth about what an important Katherine Harris’ research was. Looking into her researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut, I was able to come across Richard Fortune. Just like Titus Kent, who has
been researched by one of my classmates was an important
Researched on Ancestry.com
Richard Fortune was pa
rt of the Revolutionary War and entered into the army at the age of around 18. In the 1820’s there are records of the United States Federal Census. This record informs us that Richard Fortune had to be the age of 45 and up in the year 1820. It also gave us information on his spouse. His wife was Diana Fortune who was able to live longer than him and she received his pension benefits when she was his widow. There is also a record of
her age in the year 1820. It says she was in between 26 and 44 years of age. This is a broad range, but it gives us the idea that she was fairly younger than Mr.
Researching on Ancestry.com
As a class we were hoping to get more background information if possible on Richard Fortune. Researching Titus Kent gave us a good deal of information on Connecticut Slavery and Freedom during 1774. Thus, so finding more information on another African American soldier would get us closer to answers we are looking for as a class. If we could find more information on Richard Fortune, that could be great for my class. Can anyone help us with more sources and resources to find out more about Richard Fortune’s life after the war?
After researching more into the historian, I came across a book that she took part in. The book is named African American Connecticut Explored and this book examines details that we can look into for our topic. Katherine Harris section of the book explains the extent of slavery in Connecticut. Even the Africans that had the “free” status didn’t in all actual reality have all the privileges of being free. There were many interesting facts that she stated as well about the state of Connecticut. Connecticut had the largest number of enslaved Africans in New England at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. For instance between 1749 and 1774 the largest number of enslaved people took place. In order for slaves to achieve their freedom fully there was a long process that took place starting in the late 1770’s. Gradual Emancipation was the word used for Africans trying to gain their freedom back. Katherine Harris also found information that could put us deeper in our topic. Dr. Warren Perry of Central Connecticut State University is looking more into ancestors of the slaves to get more background in
formation. Douglas Harper was also someone of importance in Harris’s writing. Douglas Harper can also be someone to look into that can lead us to answers that we have about 1774 Suffield CT history. He has some writings that could be interesting to look at. There were also town meetings in New London that could be interesting to look into; to see if they got town meeting records. These are just some things that could put us in the right direction and be interesting to look into.
I want to look more into an historian because the knowledge of the historian can answer a lot of unanswered questions. A historian can give us information that others would not have. Since having a first-hand experience with our investigation they can answer questions that we might have for them. Like how did slaves end up in Connecticut? How did they come across?
After doing some research trying to pull out as much information about this as possible. I have found something that can lead us into the right direction. Katherine Harris an African- American Historian has a lot of knowledge about this topic. She examines in an article about how slavery in Connecticut was legal until 1848 but people in the community had no clue. She says, “”It’s unfortunate because they don’t realize fortunes were made in this state based on slavery and the slave trade.” So people in Connecticut don’t even realize that majority of money that was first made in Connecticut was from slavery.
From my online sources there are others sources that were being used like websites, books and museum programming. All of these sources were used to look into “secret” history and tell the untold stories to the public and educate people on information they have been missing out on for years. New research is constantly being added every day about this topic. There was another research on the slave ships that were used during the time period examined at the New London’s custom house Maritime museum. All of this research in different areas of the slave era in Connecticut could lead us to how slavery began in Connecticut. Another road to go down is the Connecticut Freedom Trail. From the research shows that actually, the freedom trail might also lead to stories of the Underground Railroad.