Honoring the Lives of Enslaved Persons

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Between 1670 and 1820 more than 200 enslaved African Americans and indigenous people labored in the historic town of Lyme.

Today, Witness Stones honor the humanity and the contributions of vital members of our community. The bronze plaques that mark sites of enslavement on Lyme Street restore forgotten history and serve as memorials to those once held here in bondage.

Know Their Names

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Hover over the names to learn about each enslaved individual

CATO

CATO

Plaque location: 4 Lyme Street, FCCOL

 

Lyme’s church records note the death on December 6, 1734, of Cato ye servant of Jona Parsons aged 10 yrs. Nothing else about Cato’s short life enslaved in Lyme is known. Who were his parents, where was he born, how did he die, where was he buried? How long had he lived in the house built for the town’s third minister along the cart road that connected the meetinghouse to the ferry? continue reading

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CATO

LEWIS LEWIA

LEWIS LEWIA

Plaque location: 4 Lyme Street, FCCOL

 

Lyme’s church records tell us that Lewis Negro servant to Col. Marshfield Parsons was baptized in 1795. An elaborate verse epitaph on his gravestone in Duck River Cemetery states that Lewis Lewia died in 1852 at age 79 and shows that he was admired by those who erected the grave marker. His birthplace, parents, and early circumstances are not known, but at age 17 he was likely already enslaved in Marshfield Parsons’s household, where the 1790 census lists four persons held in bondage. continue reading

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LEWIS LEWIA

John McCurdy

HUMPHREY

HUMPHREY

Plaque location: 4 Lyme Street, FCCOL
 

An emancipation certificate entered in Lyme’s land records tells us that Humphrey, a Negroman Slave to John McCurdy, paid one Hundred pounds in 1778 to gain his freedom. In precise legal terms the certificate states that Humphrey had been a Slave for life and that McCurdy, having obtained a license from the major part of the Selectmen of Lyme for the purpose, did on January 13, 1778, continue reading

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HUMPHREY

John McCurdy
John McCurdy

CAESAR

CEASAR

Plaque location: 4 Lyme Street, FCCOL

 

Ceaser, who was born 17th of November 1762, is included in Lyme’s birth records with four other enslaved children in John McCurdy’s household. Their parents are not named, but Humphrey, whom McCurdy emancipated in 1778 after the children were grown, could well have been their father. continue reading

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CAESAR

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JACK HOWARD

JACK HOWARD

Plaque location: 5 Lyme Street, FCCOL parsonage

 

Lyme’s vital records note that Jack Howard son of Janny servant of Samuel Mather Junr was born 12 Jany 1795. The enslaved youth was 14 when his “service” passed by will to Samuel Mather Jr.’s unmarried son James Mather, age 24, who inherited his father’s mansion house. The bed and furniture in the northeast room in the second story of the ell, referred to in an estate inventory as Jack’s room, also passed to James. continue reading

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JACK HOWARD

JENNY FREEMAN

JENNY FREEMAN

Plaque location: 32 Lyme Street, corner of Beckwith Lane

 

A scrapbook page listing those enslaved by William Noyes states that Jenny Freeman died Dec. 7th, 1832, in Lyme, in the 80th year of her age, of cancer. It notes that she was the wife of Prince Freeman, who died at sea in 1791, and identifies their five children, several grandchildren, and a great-grandson. A gravestone in Duck River Cemetery confirms the date of Jenny’s death. continue reading

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JENNY FREEMAN

LUCE

LUCE

Plaque location: 70 Lyme Street

 

Lyme’s church records note the baptism on June 7, 1741, of Luce maid sert of Mr Deming. Luce labored on the 60-acre farm that Rev. David Deming purchased, with a dwelling house, barn, and orchard, for 500 pounds in 1726. No other information about her passage through Lyme has been found. continue reading

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LUCE

CRUSA

CRUSA

Plaque location: 96 Lyme Street, Florence Griswold Museum

 

A Noyes family scrapbook notes that Crusa was born Sept. 17, 1778. The fourth child of Jenny and Prince, Crusa served William Noyes in the house that stood on the site of today’s Florence Griswold Museum. After his death, she passed to his son William Noyes Jr. a certificate titled Emancipation of Crusa a Negro, signed on January 7, 1817... continue reading

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CRUSA

John McCurdy

NANCY FREEMAN

NANCY FREEMAN

Plaque location: 100 Lyme Street, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

 

A list of those enslaved by William Noyes begins with Prince and Jenny, then tells us that Nancy, daugt of the above was born Nov. 11, 1771. Died Aug. 11, 1853. A gravestone in Duck River Cemetery confirms Nancy Freeman’s life dates. As a child she served alongside her four siblings in the Noyes house on the site of today’s Florence Griswold Museum. continue reading

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NANCY FREEMAN

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TEMPERANCE

TEMPERANCE

Plaque location: 100 Lyme Street, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

 

Temperance’s purchase on January 13, 1726, by Richard Lord Jr., was entered in Lyme’s land records: A Certain molato Negro girl named Temperance after the manner of a negro slave to serve the sd Richard Lord during the term of her natural life. The deed of sale from Joseph Peck Jr. included an unusual consent... continue reading

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TEMPERANCE

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JANE

JANE

Plaque location, 100 Lyme Street, Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center

 

On May 9, 1729, Joseph Peck Jr. sold one certain molato girl of about three years old called Jane for 25 pounds to Benjamin Reed. Town meeting records show that Peck’s father and Reed’s father exported large quantities of barrel staves from Lyme. The town’s vital records tell us that Reed was 29 when he purchased Jane, and that his twin daughters Margaret and Mindewill were born ten months later. continue reading

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JANE

POMPEY FREEMAN

POMPEY FREEMAN

Plaque location: 106 Lyme Street

 

The Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, affirmed that all men were created equal. Five weeks later on August 30, 1776, Jenny and Prince’s third child Pompey was born into hereditary slavery in the household of William Noyes. Along with his four siblings, Pompey served in the house that stood originally on the site of today’s Florence Griswold Museum. continue reading

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POMPEY FREEMAN

SAMUEL FREEMAN

SAMUEL FREEMAN

Plaque location: 106 Lyme Street

 

The Declaration of Independence signed in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776, affirmed that all men were created equal. Five weeks later on August 30, 1776, Jenny and Prince’s third child Pompey was born into hereditary slavery in the household of William Noyes. Along with his four siblings, Pompey served in the house that stood originally on the site of today’s Florence Griswold Museum. continue reading

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SAMUEL FREEMAN

ARABELLA

ARABELLA

Plaque location: 110 Lyme Street

 

When Rev. Moses Noyes wrote a will in 1719, he specified: To my daughter Sarah Mather I give twenty pounds to be paid by my son Moses besides the ten pounds from my son John and the negro maid Arabella. Lyme’s first minister named his enslaved servant after the ship Arbella on which the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s governor John Winthrop emigrated from England in 1630. continue reading

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ARABELLA

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