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Plaque location: Black Hall

Jack lived enslaved in Black Hall to Thomas Griswold (1718-1770) who, like his brother Capt. Matthew Griswold Esq., inherited extensive land in 1764 from their father Judge John Griswold. When Thomas died in 1770, Jack passed by will to his daughter Lucy Griswold Waite (1745-1800), wife of Richard Waite Jr. (1739-1810), and for thirteen years Jack labored on their Black Hall farm. Waite in 1781 emancipated, “or made free,” his “Negro manservant or Slave Jack Agreeable to an Act of the General Assembly of the State of Connecticut Passed in their Sessions October 1777.” 

Property records state that in 1783 “Jack a Negro man (formerly the Servant of Majr Richard Waite junr of sd Lyme but by sd Waite is made free)” bought half an acre “on the northeasterly line of Black Hall” for three pounds from Bridgham Lay (1739-1820). Jack appears to have been ill that year as Dr. Samuel Mather (1742-1834) billed “Jack, Negro” for four visits in 1783 at the house of Capt. Lee Lay (1746-1813). Lee Lay had married in 1771 Thomas Griswold’s youngest daughter Louisa Griswold Lay (1751-1813), who inherited her father’s Black Hall dwelling house. Census counts in 1790 and 1800 show that Capt. Lee Lay owned one unnamed slave. 

Whether “Jack, Negro” freed by Richard Waite is the “Negro man Jack” hired in 1804 by Capt. Josiah Burnham (1754-1834), according to Burnham’s account book, is not known. Also unknown is whether Jack is the person referenced on June 3, 1806, in an anonymous Lyme account book held by the Connecticut State Library, that states: “Jack a Negro Man Began To Work About Noon at 9 Dollars a Month To be Paid Half Money the other in Clothing.” 

What is known is that Jack died in 1815. The estate inventory of Jack Freeman, dated June 27, 1815, lists one piece of land lying on Black Hall River near the new bridge containing about ½ acre and valued at $20.00. Thomas Griswold’s nephew Charles Griswold (1791-1839), a Lyme attorney, billed that same amount for settling Jack Freeman’s estate.

Research into the lives of those enslaved in Lyme is ongoing and sometimes uncovers new details that may not have been known when the stone was installed. The text on this page reflects the most current information. 

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