1731 Document from Suffield Town Records

Suffield Academy’s American Studies class learned from Hezekiah Spencer Sheldon’s May 1885 Windsor Locks Journal article that colonial Africans were buried in the northwest corner of Suffield’s first churchyard, which is the Old Center Cemetery. While trying to learn why colonial Africans were buried in the northwest corner, the class found the following vote in Suffield’s Town Record Book.

Many towns in the Connecticut River Valley had similar practices for colonial Africans. Do you know of any other records that shed light on this colonial custom in Suffield? Please connect with the display case’s blog: https://amielpzakdisplay.wordpress.com and create a comment.

In the recently published African American Connecticut Explored, which is a collection of essays, Tamara Verrett’s essay explains the origins of the Talcott Church in Hartford. African Americans in the early nineteenth century were tired of sitting in galleries and began gathering on their own in the conference room of the First Church of Christ, now Center Church in Hartford. From these meetings emerged the Talcott Church, the first African American Church in Hartford.

Below is an image of the Suffield’s Town Record Book entry for May 17th, 1731. This is a transcription of the 12th entry:

12th. Voted, to allow ye [the] masters of negroes, and free negroes, a liberty to, for them to make a seat for s [said] Negroes at ye [the] Norwest corner of ye [the] Meeting House, upon ye beams.





Lecture: Three Hundred Years of Connecticut Architecture; The Reverend Ebenezer Gay Manse and More

card00167_frThe American Studies class at Suffield Academy announces a free lecture at Kent Memorial Library on Monday, April 1, from 7PM-8:30PM. Bill Hosley, a leading expert on New England art and history, will narrate a slide show about how Connecticut is one of the few states that can actually tell the story of American architecture from our national origins to the present with superb public sites. Hosley’s lecture will include a grand tour of three centuries of Connecticut architecture, as well as the broken dreams left in the wake of the urban renewal trend in mid-twentieth century Connecticut. Discover how appreciating the historical value of Gay Manse within the larger story of Connecticut architecture fosters a powerful civic experience and connection to our shared sense of community. This program will also create awareness that our little state contains a spectrum of architectural assets that make it a veritable museum of American life.

Principal at Terra Firma Northeast, Bill Hosley brings over thirty years experience of Connecticut Valley history and culture to our project. Bill Hosley now consults with museums and historical societies to help them reaffirm the role of history, architecture, and design as a way to create a more healthy and vibrant civic life.

The American Studies class is conducting an investigation of a chimney ruin on the east of side of Gay Manse. The class is testing a theory that Reverend Ebenezer’s slaves were associated with this dwelling. The class invited Bill Hosley to learn more about the historical value of Gay Manse (1742) and its location in the historical narrative of the Connecticut River Valley. Bill Hosley’s lecture also celebrates the installation of a new display case in Kent Memorial Library. Crafted by local artist Rex Brodie, the display case was made possible by a grant from the Amiel P. Zak Fund. The display case now hosts several old photographs of Gay Manse.

Bill Hosley is curator, museum director, public speaker, project manager, writer, photographer and cultural resource entrepreneur, he has more than 30 years work experience in museums and historic preservation. Former employers and affiliations include the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, Historic Deerfield, Winterthur Museum, Wadsworth Atheneum and, most recently, Connecticut Landmarks and the New Haven Museum where he served as executive director. Hosley also founded Historic Hartford, Inc. and was the co-founder of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s Arts & Heritage Action Partnership. Author of five books and dozens of articles, a founding advisor to Connecticut Explored, and contributor to The Hartford Courant’s PLACE, his work has appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers.