Black Stories Matter
Newspaper New-London Summary
Date June 26, 1761
Author(s) David Cooke, Charles Whittlesey
Location Wallingford, CT
Language Skills Both good english
Reward 40 shillings
RANAWAY on the 10th of June, (at Night) from David Cooke of Wallingford, a Molatto Man servant, named TONY, about 26 Years old, middling statute, speaks good English, one sore leg, and is bigger than the other. He had on when he went away a light coloured broad cloth coat, light camblet jacket tow shirt and trowsers. Also, RUN-AWAY the same Night from Charles Whittlesey, Eso; of Wallingford aforesaid. A Molatto Man servant, named TULLY, about 28 years old, speaks good English, about 6 feet high, he has long hair. He had on a dark broad cloth coat, tow shirt and trowsers. Whoever shall take one or both of the above servants, are desired to secure them in irons, and give Notice to their said masters, for which they shall have Forty Shillings reward for each and all necessary charges paid by David Cooke, Charles Whittlesey.
This summer of 2020, the Trust has embarked on a critically important project to add another chapter to our Wallingford history – the history of enslaved people in Wallingford from 1670 to 1840, and the free African-American community that existed here in town in the late 19th century. Wallingford (which included Meriden and Cheshire) at the time of the Revolutionary War had many enslaved people. While you will find some references to slavery in past Wallingford histories, it is a chapter that really hasn’t been explored in depth to date. But it is something which I, and the WHPT Board, feel must be explored, to give to our community the fullest and most complete narrative of our town’s history.
We have used the title “Black Stories Matter” as the umbrella under which the various aspects of this history project will move forward. We have created a 10-member steering committee of mostly Wallingford and Meriden residents to advise us on the project. Members include:
Jerry Farrell, Jr., President of the Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust; Wallingford resident
Shaelyn Amaio, Museum Educator, Exhibit & Interpretive Planner at Connecticut Landmarks; Wallingford resident
Dr. Daniel Brolyd, Professor of African American History at Central Connecticut State University, Meriden resident
Tami Christopher, Project Director, Student 5.0 at ReadyCT; Meriden resident
Brian Cofrancesco, Head of Education, Connecticut Old State House; Meriden Historical Society; Meriden resident
Lorraine Connelly, Writer and Project Consultant; Wallingford resident
Dennis Culliton, Chair and Co-founder of the Witness Stones Project, Retired teacher and local historian
Amy Foster, Retired department chair, History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences at Choate Rosemary Hall; Wallingford resident
Dr. Leah Glaser, Coordinator of the Public History Program at CCSU
Chris Menapace, Independent Scholar
It will be challenging to find information about people whose lives did not follow the usual documentary patterns that others have. Enslaved people probably don’t necessarily show up in the Town Clerk’s birth/marriage/death records or in old telephone directories, for that matter.
Many members of the greater Wallingford community have contacted the Trust to indicate their desire to help in the research that will be necessary. The first federal census was conducted in 1790, and every ten years thereafter. So, census records will need to be mined and combed through for any information that helps us to begin documenting some of the basic demographic information which the censuses may provide as to who the enslaved people in the Wallingford community were. The review of the censuses, from 1790 to 1920, will be a large project in and of itself, but only an initial step in the research. Eventually other records will need to be meticulously searched for any breadcrumbs that they may yield about enslaved individuals.
We are aware that each of you has only so much time that he or she can give to volunteer projects. We don’t want to take you away from what you are presently doing for the Trust. However, we did want to make you aware of the beginnings of this project – both because you are a valued member of WHPT’s core group, and also to invite those who may find themselves with the additional time to volunteer to assist with this effort.
We know that the history of enslavement is part of the history of both the Royce and Johnson families, and thus something that should be woven into the interpretation at both the Royce House and Johnson Mansion. In time we will be providing you with more specific information to help you to incorporate these themes into the public presentation of both historic properties. Our immediate goal is to have interpretative panels of our work done to date available at the Royce House in time for Wallingford’s 350th Jubilee, now rescheduled for June 2021. Ultimately, we hope to be able to re-erect the historic 1790 Yale Homestead and specifically interpret “New England slavery” at that site.
If you are interested in working on the Black Stories Matter history project, or have questions about it, you are more than welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jerry Farrell Jr. at (203) 774-5002.