Category Archives: #CTuntold

Suffield In WWI

In WWI Connecticut had many successful people enter the war effort. Specifically, our town of Suffield has four registered soldiers that were in the 102nd regiment. We tweeted @mozactly, a professor who is investigating CT’s involvement in WWI. She replied by sending us information on the people in WWI from Suffield. This was very useful to us and one, in particular, was Harry M, Convery.

Mr. Convery was born on August 20, 1884, in New York. At an early age, he moved to Suffield CT, where he lived the rest of his life. Prior to entering the war, he was single and worked on a farm for the Kullie family. It is not known if Mr. Convery wanted to go to war or not, but once president Wilson implemented the Selective Service Act men between the ages of twenty-one to thirty had to register and possibly be called upon to go fight in the war. This must have a very anxious time for people selected to fight in the war. Most of these people have never held a gun and before they know it they are off to use guns regularly. Going into this blood bath of a war was not easy and these young troops had the right to be nervous.

With all of this preparation toward war, Mr. Convery was soon required to make his draft card and was eventually chosen to take part in the war. We found his draft card that everyone had to fill out before going to war. He was a medium sized man and had blond hair and blue eyes. Once in the war, he was given the rank of private. It is not known exactly what role he played in this war, but we do know that people from our small town served in The Great War. A possible avenue would be to try and find more information on his war efforts. There possibly could have been someone we have not found yet that played a large role in the war. We are assuming that this information is true; however, we can not know for sure. The way I could do this would be to contact the Suffield or Connecticut library and ask if they have any more records. I could also tweet at Professor Gil again or #CTUntold. Maybe they will have some more information on Mr. Convery in war or more names of troops from the war.

Mr. Convery was not killed in combat but rather lived a long life. He died in 1989 at the age of ninety-seven. I want to dig deeper and see if there were any additional people who participated in the war.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 7.18.36 PM.png*This is Mr. Convery’s draft card from WWI. It gives some information as to who he was prior to the war.

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* This is the questionnaire that Mr. Convery was required to fill our as well as the draft card. We can see his religion, his marriage status and his employment.


  • Ancestry. com: Ancestry provided me with multiple documents on this man’s life and is my main source I can use. This site provide people with information that is lost or not available to the public.
  • Twitter: Twitter provided me with the opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field of WWI history. It is how I located the information on the people from Suffield in WWI.

Unacknowledged Heroes of the Lusitania

I examined the role that Connecticut played in the Sinking of the Lusitania on May 7th, 1915, the tragedy that is widely perceived to have persuaded the USA into entering WWI. While there is llusitania-hero-ABittle information connected to Suffield during this event, the state of Connecticut does have a rich history with this famous sinking. Aboard the Lusitania there were 1,960 passengers, and out of that group, twenty of the residents were from Connecticut. Among those twenty Connecticut residents involved in the Lusitania sinking, two of them are nationally perceived as heroes for saving ten percent of around seven hundred survivors. Elizabeth Duckwork, a weaver from Taftville, assisted in the rescue of forty passengers, and James Ham Brooks, a salesman in a Bridgeport manufacturing company, helped save 33 people. Another Connecticut survivor aboard the Lusitania was Theodate Pope, a Farmington citizen, who went abroad the Lusitania in hopes of reaching Liverpool to continue her research of “spiritualism”. Pope traveled with her colleague, Edward Friend, a philosopher who graduated from Harvard University. Pope survived the tragedy by clinging to the oar of a lifeboat for three long hours in the freezing waters in the Irish Sea [a true Titanic story!]. Edward Friend jumped off the side of the Lusitania before Pope did and was never seen again after the sinking. Pope is known for being the first female architect in Connecticut and for her architectural structures spread out around New York and Connecticut. Impressively enough, Pope created and founded Avon Old Farms, a single-sex boarding school in Avon, CT. Pope died at the age of forty-six in her home in Farmington, CT, which is now a museum dedicated to Theodate Pope herself. It would be very interesting to visit the museum in Farmington in order to learn a little more about a local survivor.




This source comes directly from the Hartford Courant and it is an article in remembrance of “The Sinking of The Lusitania” on its 100 year anniversary.

Using Twitter as a Critical Thinking Tool

Let’s pause in the research process to appreciate cross-referencing skills and harvest great sources, key players, and important narratives. Now let’s move forward with more research and curating. Onward #PBLResearch & #CrossReferencing!


What Happened in Your Town During WWI?

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What was the home front experience of your town during WWI?

How can we imagine daily life in Suffield during WWI? The state-wide commemorative process for the 100th anniversary of WWI provides #CAISCT students and teachers  an opportunity to investigate the local history in their area. There is also an opportunity to connect with local historical societies who are already geared up to curate information for the anniversary. Moreover, looking into home front conditions will naturally network  #CAISCT students and teachers with other Connecticut historians to discover the best historical methods to uncover more original history. So connect with us on this #CAISCT #PBL blog and start “doing history” in your community. Consider this another form of service learning if you share what you learn with your community. This year’s investigation about life one hundred years ago in your town will also help you appreciate how this global event propelled our region and nation into the modern era.

Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class, which is a winter/spring trimesters project-based learning elective to seniors, will share everything they learn about the home front in Suffield on this blog and invite other Connecticut students to do the same about their town! Let’s together create Connecticut history on this great collaborative platform (blog) and “do original” history story about this complex topic!

#PBL Mantra: Share what you learn and show how you learned it.

The Suffield Academy American Studies class will present their findings at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society. Click here for more:

Stay tune for more!



The Connection Between Elizabeth Freeman and Theodore Sedgwick.

Mum Bett was born a slave in 1742, and worked  in Colonel John Ashley’s house in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Ashley was a local leader, a merchant and very prominent in his community. He was also married to Hannah Ashley. Mum Bet was born a slave and was owned by the Ashley residence for 40 years. One day, Hannah Ashley struck and hit Bet in the face with a burning shovel. This badly scarred her face. After the incident, she decided she was going to use her natural rights, that “all men are born free and equal,” and fight for her freedom.

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John Ashley’s House

She later became the first African American slave to be free in the state of Massachusetts. She then went to Stockbridge to Theodore Sedgwick’s household. Sedgwick was an attorney and a lawyer, and agreed to help Mum Bett in her freedom suit fight. How did Mum Bet know that Theodore Sedgwick would help her though? After research, the answer has been found. Theodore Sedgwick used to live in Sheffield Massachusetts and knew John Ashley. They were both very prominent and wealthy in the community. Actually, Sedgwick often visited the Ashley home along with a group of men who put together the Sheffield Resolves. The Sheffield resolves, in short

was a Colonial American petition against British tyranny and manifesto for individual rights, drawn up as a series of resolves approved by the Town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, on January 12, 1773 and printed in The Massachusetts Spy, Or, Thomas’s Boston Journal on February 18, 1773. It is said that the meeting took place in the Colonel John Ashley House” (Document 2).

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Drawing of Mum Bett

Sedgwick and Ashley sat together in the Ashley’s living room and agreed on a petition against their individual rights, yet Ashley still had multiple slaves working for his family. This is what most New England families stood for. They believed they should rebel against the British, and fight for their lives yet they were still enslaving other humans who should have also had those rights. Sedgwick believed in natural rights for African Americans, while Ashley did not. This may be because of his education and upbringing.

Sedgwick was born in West Hartford, Connecticut and was born into an immigrant ancestor family. He attended Yale College, where he studied law. Although he did not finish, he “read law” with Mark Hopkins. Mark Hopkins was an American educator and later went on to be the president of Williams College. Sedgwick was surrounded by liberal teachings. He understood the difficulty of being an immigrant because of his family. His relative, Robert Sedgwick actually came over on the “Truelove” boat in 1635. He studied at very liberal colleges and learned from liberal teachers, like Mark Hopkins.

Ashley, on the other hand, also attended Yale to study law but did not finish. Instead, he took a different path and settled for being a town merchant instead. He spent ten years in the military at first, and became very prominent in his town. He later became one of the town lawyers.

These two men had very different upbringings, making them different in many ways. This infers that is why they have different opinions about African American rights. Mum Bet was working during one of their meetings, and happened to overhear the part about natural rights. She knew Sedgwick and what he stood for, which is why she had the confidence to knock on his door that day.

After a successful court case and a mark in history, a friendship between Theodore and Mum Bett  bloomed. After Bett won her freedom she changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman and tried to start a new life. The problem was, trying to build a life as the only free African American women in Western Massachusetts became very challenging. In her words, trying to live in a racist world was close to impossible. Elizabeth decided to turn to Sedgwick for help again. Considering their wonderful friendship, Sedgwick hired Freeman to work for his family.

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Elizabeth Freeman’s Grave

They built her a home on their property, so she could raise her daughter. Elizabeth worked for their family for the rest of her life. She died in Stockbridge December 28, 1829 and was buried in the Stockbridge cemetery. She actually was buried in the Sedgwick family’s part of the cemetery because they really did consider her one of their own.





Places:  “Colonel John Ashley House,” 2017.


Documents: Sjc. “The Mum Bett Case.” Court System. N.p., 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 23 May 2017.<;.

“Sheffield Declaration (1773).” Constitution Society: Everything Needed to Decide Constitutional Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <;.

Cori Urban | Special to The Republican. “Favorite Place: Ashley House in Sheffield Tells Stories of Landowners, Slaves Who Lived There.”, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 May 2017. <;.

Sedgwick, Dennis. SEDGWICK.ORG – Major General Robert Sedgwick (1613 – 1656). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <>.


Book: Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1957. Print.


Digging into Richard Fortune’s Whole Story Part II, 1 of 3 Images 2 of 3

Researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut has evolved into a powerful and important partnership of public history. With help from an independent genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society combined with help from the National Mall Liberty Fund in Washington, DC, I was able to examine more information about Richard Fortune. The National Mall Liberty Fund DC sent us a URL of an amazing and far-reaching text, Forgotten Patriots, published by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in 2008. Here’s a URL for the text; wait a few moments for the URL to load on your computer. You can then perform searches of key words. Searching Suffield will help you find the information about Richard Fortune as well as a “Titus” from Suffield as well as two other African-American soldiers we know more information about, Cesar Negro and Titus Kent.

Click here for a pdf that shows the DAR Sources for Richard Fortune in the important text, Forgotten Patriots.

Simultaneously, a member from the Suffield Historical Society, sent us a most important clue about a letter written by General Israel Putnam’s son who testified to Richard Fortune’s long service, which included Fortune signing up again for service.

Again, below is  from a classmate who found the National Mall Liberty Fund link that my classmate discovered in the winter:  See page 5 of 5 of this pdf published by the Liberty Fund organization.

The genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society clues also lead us more to the eastern Connecticut story of Richard Fortune. Our initial search discovered his alias as well as someone from eastern Connecticut writing a letter on his behalf when Richard Fortune sought his pension in 1818. Our slide show presents that information:

If any reader knows more about Richard Fortune or has a suggestion for a source that will help our research, please leave a comment on this post. I will get an email notifying me of your comment and look forward to learning more.

Below is my first attempt at transcribing the letter; please comment any suggestions where I have a question mark by a word or let me know if I made a mistake with a word.

Jabez CLARK, esquire Brooklyn 1818
Sir I received a line from you on Saturday last request on info regarding the services of Richard fortune, a black man in the army of the Revolution. This man has the commencement of the war was slave, belonging to general Putnam. In December 1775 he was ordered by his master ??? And entered as a soldier in Durkus(?) Regiment as that time ??? For the continental? He was taken from the regiment into the family of his master as a servant and continued with him until April 1777 remaining in the Munster rolls, and drawing pay as a soldier in that regiment. Some time in April 1777 under the promise of freedom as the close of the war he enlisted again in the same regiment and continued as a servant in general Putnam’s (family?) till about the first of April 1779 when he was discharged from service. When I state his services in General Putnam’s family it is to be understood his military family in Corps where he served with such fidelity and good conduct as to obtain?? An honorable discharge from the army had also from (?) Claims of his master.
I state these facts from my own knowledge having hear myself an aide de camp to (?) General Putnam and services in his family most of the (?)(?) In service in the time of the Revolution
I am respectfully (?)
Your servant (?)
David Putnam


Caesar Negro

Caesar Negro.

Caesar Negro was one of the former slaves that fought in the revolutionary war for Suffield. He was a part of the 4th regiment and fought for the term of 3 years. His owners last name is suggested to be Clark, because in the application for his pension it states “Negro or Clark” as the last name.

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Caesar Negro (Clark) Application for pension.


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Excerpt from “History of a Town” revolutionary war veterans.