Category Archives: Blogging, Best Practices

Best Practices for Blog Posting

another-look-at-blog-post-1As we refine our prose and check our sources, we should also be mindful that we are trying to create “sharable” content so that we can move forward with our investigation in our “Flat” classroom. Does this image help you revise all the parts and nuances of a successful blog post? Click on the source link to learn more from the Langwitches website, a most helpful source for our #PBL classroom. Then, once you have an excellent post, let’s have individual students turn to Twitter and, being mindful of audience(s), compose an academic Tweet to to share what we learn and show how we did it. Also select the “1774 Freedom & Slavery HOT Log” category.



Is There a Connection Between the Chaffee family and John Hooker?

Hi, Loomis Chaffee:

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 8.39.26 AM

The Hezekiah Chaffee House at 108 Palisado Avenue, Image from “Images of America Windsor” by Windsor Historical Society

We are doing a project-base learning investigation on the Other Underground Railroad, we are also focusing on the UGRR in Connecticut. We found John Hooker had a vital role with Reverend Hemengway from Suffield in terms of creating a legal case in the 1840s to free the descendants of Flora, who was kidnaped and sold into slavery. During the research about the possible routes for runaway fugitives and traces of John Hooker, we discovered that the Chaffee House in Windsor was a possible stop for the fugitive slaves from the book “Places of the Underground Railroad: A Geographical Guide” by Tom Calarco. This information is also in Horatio Strother’s text, p. 171:

Because John Hooker is one key character, a major figure in the Connecticut abolitionist movement, we are trying to find out as much information about him and his relationship to this area, Windsor and Suffield. Did he have a connection to the Loomis family? If that is the case, we wonder how and why Hooker connected with Revenerend Hemenway in West Suffield. Can you please provide us some information about the relationship between the Chaffee (and perhaps Loomis) and John Hooker if possible? Is there anything in your archives that will shed light? John Hooker relates the the Flora Case in his memoir on pp. 31-33,

Since the Chaffee House is also a possible and an important station in the runaway routine, we did further research on it to make sure the Chaffee family in our research is the same as the one who is related to your school. We found that the house was built for Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee around 1765. Dr. Chaffee’s daughter, Abigail, married Colonel James Loomis in 1805 and later they founded the co-educational Loomis Institute. The Chaffee House and the Loomis Institute then emerged to form the Loomis- Chaffee School in 1970, in which all the information about the Chaffee House matches with our research so far. Fortunately, the records relating to the slaves owned by Dr. Chaffee survive, including the documents for the emancipation of Elizabeth Stevenson. There’s another slave in the Chaffee household, Nancy Toney, who was later owned by Dr. Chaffee’s daughter, Abigail. When she died in 1857, she was the last surviving slave in Connecticut. With the evidence shown that there were slaves in the Chaffee House, we wonder if there is an any further information about who might have participated in the abolitionist activities in this area. Was anyone in the family involved in the abolitionist movement in any way?


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  1. “Historic Buildings of Connecticut.” Historic Buildings of Connecticut RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.
  2. Calarco, Tom. “Places of the Underground Railroad.”Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.
  3. Underground Railroad in Connecticut.


David Ruggles and Northampton Association

David Ruggles

David Ruggles, born in 1810 and passed away in 1849, was an abolitionist in Brooklyn, New York, who resisted slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad. David Ruggles is one of the overlooked figures, and he was actually the really important in the history of the Underground Railroad. He was anearly abolitionist in America. As an activist, writer, publisher, and hydrotherapist, Ruggles strived for African Americans’ freedom in variety of ways. He salvaged more than six hundred people, including Frederick Douglass. He was even a mentor of Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and William Cooper Nell to teach them the skills of antislavery activism. As a founder of the New York Committee of Vigilance, Ruggles inspired many upstate New York and New England whites, who allied with him to form a network which became the Underground Railroad.

In 1842, a utopian community called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry was created in Florence, MA. Founders of the group, abolitionists, farmers, and silk manufactures, supported William Lloyd Garrison and the immediate abolition of slavery and wanted to participate together with others who had these beliefs. This attracted David Ruggles to get involved in this community because the community planned an egalitarian enterprise around silk manufacturing. Silk was both practical and ideological, and it did not depend on slavery. This movement protests against cotton industry, which requires a lot of labor force of slaves. By growing silk, a plant similar to cotton, they wanted to show that growing cotton is unnecessary, and therefore, owning slaves is also pointless.


Looking for Aid from the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

hbsc icon.gifHooker mentions Hemengway’s letter in his memoir. Do you have this or other similar letters?

During our early researches, the class found out that John Hooker (1816-1901), as an abolitionist, served a vital role with Reverend Hemengway in the case. After some brief online research, I found out his relations with Thomas Hooker, the founder of Hartford, and that indeed John is the grandson of him. Also, he worked as a lawyer and judge in Farmington, a significant stop for the underground railroad, and as an advantage for his abolitionist activities. Significantly, a breakthrough came when we learnt about Isabella Beecher Hooker, a women suffragist, who was indeed his wife. We went on from that direction and learnt much more information of Hooker, including from Susan Campbell’s book, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker.

After that, the class focused on the book Love of Freedom, so we changed directions on finding sources relating to Oliver Hanchett, Flora’s owner and Exeter, Flora’s husband’s court cases. Recently, we brought our attention back to Hooker and found out more about him. We contacted Susan Campbell on Twitter and she suggested us to make use your organization in digging out Hooker’s history. The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center’s website indeed aided a lot on our research. First, we get to know a lot more about Hooker in his career being a judge from hyperlinking to the CT State Library page. Then, we connected the dates to branch out much more data regarding his family and life. For example, I found a book written by Thomas Hooker that recorded all descendants of him including John, as well as notes John wrote about his father Edward, and properties of the Hooker family passed on to John. Despite all information found, realizing the center is keeping over 1000 letters of John Hooker’s from a manuscript collection guide became the biggest breakthrough throughout our research on him.

This project requires lots of research skills and critical thinking skills, and it’s hard to find and see original paper form documents. It had taken us a good deal of effort to be in the position we stand right now, and we hope the center will be able to provide the letters or just any clues of John Hooker relating to our case, especially the conversations between Hooker and Reverend Hemengway. We believe any documents relating their partnership will bring us a big step forward.


Who Has the Legal Custody Over Flora?


Mumbett, Elizabeth Freeman:the first African-American woman to win her way out of slavery in 1781. We don’t have an image for Flora, but we can take Mumbett as a reference to get a general idea of how Flora might looks like since they have similar background. Source:

As we are doing history in a project based learning environment and preparing a presentation for the Suffield Historical Society on the other Underground Railroad, especially about the Flora’s kidnapping case, we posed a question: Did Exeter, her husband, has the legal custody of Flora, or did Hanchett, the slave owner, have the property rights over his slave. Flora’s case is about a married black woman who was kidnapped and sold back into slavery.

We found a book, Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England, written by Catherine Adams and Elizabeth H. Pleck, and an article, “Flora’s flight: A Montgomery county freedom suit” from Library of Virginia, which both mention that Exeter sued Hanchett for his legal title to the ownership of Flora. In this case, the court of common pleas in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, sentenced Hanchett guilty because Hanchett was known as a villain in town. Exeter was awarded damages around £65.  However, there was another state case in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in which Hanchett claimed that Flora and Exeter had “consented” to limit their marital rights in their wedding so that Flora should be remained a “servant” obligated to him, the slave master. Unfortunately, Exeter lost the case because the judges of the Court respect the property rights of an owner from outside the state as Exeter and Hanchett are from Connecticut.

As we connected with the Library of Virginia, we were given a court archive about Exeter v. Hanchett case. The document is all handwritten in cursive, so it will take us a significant amount of time to transcribe it. We will also post it on our classroom blog and ask other experts to guide us in the process. On top of that, we are wondering if the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Hampden County Superior Court have the same court documents and depositions about Exeter v. Hanchett case.


  1. “Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England.”Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
  3. Image from:





Extended Research: Exeter v. Hanchett Court Case


After getting the big picture of our research, we started to focus on different tiny parts of details. We utilized the source Love of Freedom by Catherine Adams. I discovered something very useful and largely related to the project from the footnotes: a book named Seventeen Eighty-Three: The Turning Point in the Law of Slavery and Freedom in Massachusetts by Emily Blanck. Blanck guided us through the change in slavery law mainly in the state of Massachusetts during the late 18th century. More importantly, Blanck used Flora’s trial as one of the three major historical events in supporting her book’s thesis. After analyzing the booking, I found that Blanck gave us a clearer image on how exactly Flora’s case was like, from Exeter’s perspective and the responses of both lawyers. For example, she described the process of how Exeter and Flora married as “servants” when ruled by Benjamin Scott and both remained enslaved. While Exeter was set free before, and that became the main supporting evidence to the court case- Flora should be Exeter’s property under their marriage. In conclusion, Hanchett was only found guilty for stealing the couple’s personal items but not for kidnapping Flora. Other than that, Blanck left some clues for us to solve as well, which include if the Supreme Court did inappropriately infringe upon the property rights of a Connecticut slaverowner (42) or not and to find out the actual copies of documents filed in the appeals of the trials (39). I see that a lot more things were being solved from this document and it helped us take a big step forward towards solving our mystery.


Seventeen Eighty-Three: The Turning Point in the Law of Slavery and Freedom in Massachusetts, Emily Blanck,


Research Update: Flow Chart of Flora’s Descendants

In my class, each student had to pick the topic they wanted to research and share what they have found to other classmates. I chose to make a flow chart of Flora’s descendants because it is important to display the specific information of descendants to understand more easily about law court cases. In addition, since most of the people are visual learners, the flow chart will help them know the story well and connect to the court issues. After Flora began to sue her illegal owner, her children and grandchildren had court battles against Virginia slave owners, such as Charlton’s heirs and family member swho had either been given or sold members of Flora’s family. However, I could not complete the flow chart because although I found many names of descendants, none of the sources stated the particular information of each descendants. The descendants’ names are: Andrew, Reuben, Julius, William, Helen, Mary, Tarlton, Matilda, James, and Flora / Rhoda Ann, Phyllis, William, Henry, Mary, Tarlton, Matilda, Flora and James (both are from other sources). At least I know that Cena/Caeana and Rose (later called Unis) are Flora’s daughters, and Andrew is Flora’s grandson. Nonetheless, I do not know if Andrew is Cena’s or Unis’s son.

Fortunately, I found some other information that I was curious about during this research. Flora was a slave before her marriage with Exeter but became a free woman after the marriage; hence, it is justifiable for Flora to fight against her owners. Flora and Exeter had three children (one of them (son, I guess) was not kidnapped). Unis and Cena had a same owner, Jacob Lawrence, while Flora was sold to different owner, James Stephens.

In the future, I need to put more effort to complete the flow chart. Even though I found some multiple names of people who are blood-related to Flora, I could not find the detailed relationship among them. Therefore, we need to search for other sources or try to find out the specific legal battles, or send email to ask a question to a reliable institute, such as Library of Virginia.