Category Archives: #SA1833 Third HOT Log

Examining Loyalists

During 1774, there was great turmoil in the colonies. There were those who supported the Sons of Liberty, those in the middle, and those who supported the British. Today, there is not an exact number of how many Loyalists there were, but there were many more then we would have believed. It can be assumed that they were the

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Example of a Loyalist

wealthiest and people with the most power. Together they came up with the name “Loyalists” for themselves. In places such as Massachusetts and Virginia there were very little Loyalists, but in colonies such as New York and New Jersey, they very well could have been a majority. Loyalists would be the wealthiest men because they have benefitted the most from the Crown, and most likely have the closest ties to Britain. When things intensified, the Loyalists were treated poorly, a patriot preference was tarring and feathering.

I would like to look more in depth into the Loyalists, in particular in Connecticut. I will look into Suffield specifically, after looking at them as a whole I believe there are more in Suffield. After all they are supposed to be some of the wealthiest people, and Suffield was rich.

Source: http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h568.html

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Flora’s Life with Scott

Based on the statements of people who knew Flora before, it is likely that Flora was a slave before her marriage and freed after the marriage. In 1770s, she legally married with Exeter in Southwick, MA, but they lived separately. Exeter lived in Southwick, MA, and Flora lived in Suffield, CT. Flora was also a servant to Benjamin Scott. According to the document written by Hannah King, “I have ever lived in the town of Suffield and with in 1 mile of Benjamin Scott the resident of Benjamin Scott decided that Flora, a negro woman lives in a family ?aia [unknown text] Scott  several years and attended Church at that Suffield with his (Scott family) during the time of Rev. John Graham’s ministry in a West Suffield and that she left  the family of ?aia [unknown text] Scott a free woman and not a slave as I understand at the time. and that afterwards Flora and her children” (https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/transcription/). I have also read the depositions of a few people (Sarah Nelson, Silence Remington, Abraham Rising, and Bela Spencer) who have known Flora and Scott before. People mentioned that Flora was living at Benjamin Scott’s. Flora was a slave (many stated that she belonged to Scott), but Exeter was a free man even before the marriage to Flora. Flora was probably freed from Scott. Some people heard that he made her free, which is a common report at that time. When Scott moved to Balndford, Massachusetts, Scott gave Flora her time, and she went to Hanchett’s and lived there as hired servant or slave for a year or two. However, one said that Flora lived with her master, Scott, in Suffield, and one does not know that she ever lived with Exeter, but Flora was back and forth frequently, until her master thought she was up there too much and sold her to Captain Hanchett. In addition, according to the source from the Library of Virginia, in 1781, Scott sold Flora to Oliver Hanchett for 30 pounds, but Flora resisted and ran away. I cannot find out the specific information of Flora and Scott because of lack of materials. What I need to find out is the relationship between Scott and Flora and how Flora worked in Scott’s house. We are not sure that Scott freed Flora or sold her to Hanchett.

There is another part of our mystery of Flora’s possible son. Flora had a son (we do not know his name), and Scott let her take care of him when he was two or three months old. Then Scott told Exeter that if he would give him a boy, he would take care of the boy, but if he would not, he must take it away, so Exeter took the boy away and hired Aunt betty to keep him a year. After that, Exeter hired somebody in Feeding Hills, which is in Massachusetts, to keep his son.

Actual Location of UGRR in Suffield

 

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source: https://archive.org/details/undergroundrailr1962stro

After few weeks of searching and discovering our main characters about Flora’s kidnapping case, now is time for us to have a better understanding about where is the actual location of Suffield on UGRR map.

Fugitive slaves entered Connecticut at a number of points. Some passed through the state by way of Stamford, New Haven or Old Lyme, often traveling on to Farmington, the “Grand Central Station” in Connecticut. From there, they headed north to Westfield or Springfield, Massachusetts. Some traveled to Springfield by way of Middletown, Hartford and other communities along the Connecticut River. Those who passed through the state by way of New London or Westerly, Rhode Island, went north to Norwich and Putnam, and then to Worcester, Massachusetts. A western Connecticut route included Waterbury, New Milford, Washington, Torrington, Winchester and Winsted. Slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad would sometimes choose to settle in communities along the way. There’re some examples of these communities on the Freedom Trail, include “Little Liberia” in Bridgeport, Jail Hill in Norwich and the William Winters Neighborhood in Deep River.

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source: http://www.ctfreedomtrail.org/trail/underground-railroad/

Little Liberia is the houses of the African American community are delineated by the absence of their owners’ names. It used to be called as “The Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses”, it’s historic residences at 352-4 and 358-60 Main street in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Jail Hill Historic District is located in Norwich, Connecticut. The district consists of 74 buildings and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 19, 1999.

So maybe our class can visit there and get more specific information about those place.

 

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?

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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.

Sources:

  1. “Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England.”Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
  2. FLORA’S PLIGHT: A MONTGOMERY COUNTY FREEDOM SUIT
  1. http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/courthouses/hampden-holyoke/hampden-superior-court-generic.html
  2. http://www.sec.state.ma.us/arc/arccol/colidx.htm#court
  3. Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Freeman#/media/File:Mumbett70.jpg