CATO

Plaque location: 4 Lyme Street, First Congregational Church of Old Lyme

 

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?

Cato was seven in 1731 when Jonathan Parsons, age 26, was ordained in Lyme. A few months later the minister married Phoebe Griswold, age 15, whose father John Griswold, a large landowner in the Black Hall section of town, owned several enslaved servants. Perhaps Cato was a gift to the minister from his father-in-law, and perhaps he was related to the “maid servant” Phillis, whom Rev. Parsons baptized in 1740. Cato could have been her son or a younger brother, but he also may have been purchased as a child alone.