Please click on the comment thread and offer any suggestions or insights on transcribing the December 23rd line entry. Bob Romer’s Slavery in the Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts as well as Joseph Carvalho’s Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, 2nd Edition both capture a moment in Reverend Ballantine’s Journal when he describes in February of 1767 Sylvia’s “bitter aversion” to a possible negotiation for sale from the Gay family. Interestingly, Reverend Ballantine, fellow minister from Westfield, was a rare example of a Connecticut Valley minister who did not own slaves. Nevertheless, he did have Sylvia in his home as Reverend Ebenezer Gay lent her out to the Ballantine family. Sylvia also sought refuge with the Ballantine family on a previous occasion in November 8, 1763.
We are fortunate to have Reverend Ebenezer Gay’s Almanac for the year 1767. The almanac does not mention Sylvia in the month of February, but the entry for December 23rd does have Sylvia’s name on it. Thus, the two journal entries of Ballantine and Gay do cross-reference for the 23rd of December. Nevertheless, the last word after Sylvia’s name is hard to decipher. Can you read the last word after her name? Please click on the comment thread and offer any suggestions or insights for that word and the whole line. Feel free to comment on the absence of Sylvia from the February entries as well.
As noted in other sections of the journal, the manner of making particular letters isn’t consistent; though there are identifiable patterns. The word in question, on line 23 is remarkably similar to the word “Returned” on line 31. This also fits the context of the entry, showing that he went to Westfield with Sylvia, and then returned. He uses this same shorthand in other places.
First of all, thank you very much for helping us on deciphering the last word on the entry. We have been studying the history of slavery in Connecticut for months and your suggestion helped us a lot. As you suggested, the last sentence of Reverend Ebenezer Gay’s Alamance must mean that Sylvia “returned”. So we now acknowledge that Sylvia might run away from Gay family and then returned. And there must be some reasons lead to Sylvia’s run away and we want to discover what these reasons are. This message is really important for us for studying the history of slavery in Connecticut. Thank you very much for providing a thorough suggestion for analyzing this old historical document. It is really brilliant to decipher words by looking for identifiable patterns. We believe this idea will help us a lot in our future studying of history of slavery in Connecticut.