Author Archives: tannerm1516

Titus Kent-Middletown Investigation

My ProjectBase Learning Class has been researching 1774, regarding slavery and freedom. We have found information on Rose and her son Prince, slaves who came to Middletown on a Dutch Ship. Mr Phillips, of Middletown Connecticut, sold Rose and Prince to Reverend Ebenezer Gay, of Suffield Connecticut. After reading about your exhibition, we were wondering if you had any records of this. We do not have the exact dates to this sale, however, Reverend Ebenezer Gay was the Minister in Suffield from 1742-1796, and during this

Windsor.Locks.Journal.5.29.1885.pdf copy.jpg

Windsor Locks Journal, 1885. Written by trusted town historian, with first hand source from Ebenezer Gay’s Granddaughter

time he purchased his slaves. I am looking into where the Dutch ships originated from, especially trying to find the origin of Rose Gay, who had a tattoo on her back that suggested royalty. Rose Gay went on to marry Titus Kent, another slave belonging to the wealthy Kent family of Suffield. During our research we found, by looking through old war documents, monuments and lists, that Titus Kent fought in the Revolutionary War along with Elihu Kent and Elihu Kent Jr. We are still uncertain whether Titus got his freedom after the war, but we found records of applications for his pension. What is interesting about these documents is that they are not filed so that Titus himself could have retrieved his pension. They are filed so that other people could get his pension.  While we are very interested in your documentation regarding slaves sold in Middletown, we are also wondering if you came across and documents regarding slaves being granted their freedom after fighting in the Revolutionary War?

Bermuda Supporting the Colonies

As our 2017 Project Base Learning class has continued to look into 1774 regarding slavery and freedom in Suffield, Connecticut, we have been expanding to our search to the surrounding colonies and the Triangle Trade. The Triangle Trade was very crucial to the colonies economy. Slaves from Africa were sent to the West Indies to work on sugar plantations. This sugar was then transported up to the Colonies to be sold, and in return the Colonies traded food and supplies to the West Indies. The islands in the West Indies were populated with sugar plantations, and with this monopoly and wealth, they had enough money to pay whatever necessary funds for food and supplies. This allowed for the Colonies to charge high prices and enabled anyone to get in on the trade. I was curious of my hometown of Bermuda and where it fit into all of this during this era so, I started investigating our role in the trade.

I discovered Bermuda was not only apart of the triangle trade but also sympathized with the colonists idea of freedom. In the book “In the Eye of all Trade”, by Michael Jarvis, the details of Bermuda’s role in the trade is presented. Bermuda’s economy was dependent on trade by sea, and merchant ships from the Colonies and the West Indies. Being such a small island, Bermuda was not able to join the Colonies in their rebellion against the British, so instead they assisted the Colonies by selling them over a thousand Bermuda Sloops, which are very fast sailboats. However, along with the West Indies, when the revolution began, Bermuda worried of starvation as they relied heavily on imports of food from the Colonies. Likewise, the Colonies depended on Bermuda for salt, so Bermuda began exchanging salt for food. To further assist the Colonies, two Bermudians, Benjamin Franklin and Henry Tucker, robbed a hundred barrels of gunpowder to send to the Colonies.  As the Revolutionary War continued,

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Scan of letter from George Washington to Bermuda

Bermuda was still unable to join due to the power of the British Royal Navy. Nevertheless, George Washington wrote a letter to Bermuda addressing the topic of trade and Bermudas role in assisting the colonies. In his letter, Washington stated that if Bermuda continued to assist the Colonies in their fight for freedom, he would ensure that “your island may not only be supplied with provisions, but experience every mark of affection and friendship, which the grateful citizens of a free country can bestow on its bretheren and benefactors”.

The connection between Bermuda and the Colonies is clear and their support during the Revolutionary War was very beneficial in the fight for freedom. The small island of Bermuda played its own role in the rebellion and was a large part of the triangle trade.

http://www.bermuda.com/do-you-know-what-george-washington-promised-the-people-of-bermuda-in-1775/

https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/11/the-bermuda-powder-raids-of-1775/

Jarvis, Michael Joseph. “In the eye of all trade”: maritime revolution and the transformation of Bermudian society, 1612-1800. N.p.: n.p., 1998. Print.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bermuda#Bermuda_and_the_American_War_of_Independence

http://www.bermuda-online.org/history1700-1799.htm

 

 

 

 

Dr. Alexander King Insight into 1774

Our Suffield Academy Project Base Learning class has been researching 1774 relating to slavery and freedom in Connecticut, and more specifically Suffield. In my last blog post I mentioned my research on two of Suffield’s founding families; the King family and the Austin family. I was interested in their families’ relation to slavery and their opinions on freedom. I discovered they were minutemen and fought for freedom, but I wanted to know more. Through my research I came across Dr. Alexander King’s diaries. This primary source is very important, as Dr. King was the town’s doctor. Thus he was often traveling around and very aware of what was going on. His detailed diary entries discuss the town’s emotions and opinions surrounding the events in the colonies. The topic of conflict arises

in 1773 after the Boston Tea Party. King describes on May 12th, 1774, that four ships arrived in Boston and locked down the port on behalf of Parliament to stop all traffic except for provisions and fuel, until Boston payed for the tea they dumped over. The Colonies were greatly alarmed by this, and the Ct General Assembly met to discuss resolutions related to American Liberty. King was a part of the General Assembly and provides information on their meetings and their discussions on freedom. The General Assembly met again on October 3rd, 1774 to pass an act prohibiting the importation of slaves. This is very important to our topic of slavery and freedom as it provides an insight to the colonies views on slavery and how they were going about fighting it in 1774. King also describes the people in America growing extremely angry and ready to take up arms to fight for liberty. “The mobish temper was so high that it is dangerous for a moderate man to manifest his opinion” (Page 9 1774). This provides insight into the Colonies coming together to prepare to fight and their strong will to stay free and independent. To continue my research, I hope to look into the General Assembly further and their stance on freedom, while hopefully finding more primary sources.

 

http://www.suffield-library.org/history/king/king1776/diaryking1776.htm

Identifying Suffield Founding Families and their Connection to Slavery and Freedom

My class and I are researching slavery and freedom in 1774, related to Suffield, Connecticut. I first researched the basics to discover that slaves arrived in Suffield as early as 1671. While researching this I discovered that a century later the African American residents of Suffield formed their own church; the Third Baptist Church of Suffield. This is where I would like to focus my research to see if any of the church’s founders were slaves in Connecticut. I tried to find more on this church; however, they have no website or information online discussing their history or founding. I hope to investigate the founder’s backstories through church and state archives to uncover their history and see if there is any correlation to the topic of Suffield slavery. I plan to reach out to the church through social media to inquire about records they may have. While this lead will take time to pursue, I continued my research and discovered that Connecticut had the largest slave population in New England during the time of the American Revolution. For instance, Seth Austin was part of one of the founding families of Suffield, and according to the 1790 census he had 5 slaves, which was the most of any Suffield family at that time. It is likely that he owned multiple slaves of which totaled part of the 37 Slaves listed in the 1774 census. His uncle Anthony Austin not only started the Suffield schooling system in 1796, but was also city commissioner andtown assessor (1). I believe this family should be investigated further as they have strong ties to the founding and development of Suffield. By analyzing the Austin Family tree I found that Anthony Austin’s great-grandson, Moses Austin, and his great-great grandson, Stephen F. Austin, were the founders of the first Anglo Colony in Texas, which became the town of Austin, Texas (2). Another prominent founding family was the King family. The King family had documents of their slaves listed among their cattle. In 1725 Elizabeth King and Anthony Austin were married, combining these two founding families. Considering both families were slave owners and very prominent in the community, I believe they may have archival evidence shedding some light on the slavery in Suffield. To investigate this theory further I looked into these families and their connections to fighting for freedom, and discovered men from both families were minutemen in the Battle of Lexington. Minutemen were civilians who organized and trained themselves to fight in battles during the Revolutionary War, supporting my hypothesis that they fought for freedom (3).

  1. xbattle-of-lexington-1815-german-book-wcpd-jpg-pagespeed-ic-f2cs8ipjdz

    http://www.suffieldct.gov/content/10058/10064/default.aspx

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ctahgp/hartford/1790/slaves.htm

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/families/austin.htm

  1. https://www.geni.com/people/Capt-Anthony-Austin/6000000000632505996

http://www.suffieldhistoricalsociety.org/families/king.htm

  1. https://archive.org/stream/waroftherevolution00recorich/waroftherevolution00recorich_djvu.txt