Hi, Loomis Chaffee:
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: https://archive.org/stream/undergroundrailr1962stro#page/170/mode/2up/search/chaffee
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, https://archive.org/stream/somereminiscenc01hookgoog#page/n42/mode/2up/search/flora
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?
Coco SA 16’
- “Historic Buildings of Connecticut.” Historic Buildings of Connecticut RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.http://historicbuildingsct.com/?p=143
- Calarco, Tom. “Places of the Underground Railroad.”Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2016.https://books.google.com/books?id=muBtFTkFH_EC&q=suffield#v=snippet&q=florence%20suffield&f=false
- Underground Railroad in Connecticut. https://archive.org/stream/undergroundrailr1962stro#page/170/mode/2up/search/chaffee