Plaque location: 12 McCurdy Road, Duck River Cemetery
Salem Freeman, son of Katherine Champion Freeman, was born into hereditary slavery on Meetinghouse Hill, today’s Johnnycake Hill, in 1752 in the household of Henry Champion. Called Salem Champion when he was emancipated at age 28 on June 5, 1780, he was set free “in Consideration that ye Said Negro man Servant hath Served Faithfully and Conducted himself Dutifully.” Two years later he acquired a small plot of land, and the Lyme census in 1790 lists Salem Freeman as “Negro” with two in his household.
Salem died suddenly at his house at age 60 on December 18, 1812, and an inquest judged that his death was accidental. He is buried beside his mother in Duck River Cemetery. Probate records show that his estate was charged $15.00 for his funeral and $10.00 for his gravestone.
Salem Freeman had accumulated an estate worth $663.61, but he had multiple outstanding debts. An estate inventory valued his land and hay at $597.16, his wearing apparel at $4.83, his household goods at $18.37, and his livestock at $43.25. When he died, he owned a felt hat, a brown coat, an old coat, and a pair of trousers. He also owned a square table, six old chairs, a stone jug, a frying pan, a dish kettle, an iron pot, a tea kettle, an old sickle, an old axe, a shovel and tongs, a looking glass, three books, a small trunk, a bag of salt, two old trays, two baskets, and a lantern. Salem also had seven dollars in cash. Among the charges against his estate, listed in different currencies, were two entries for his mother’s maintenance: 3 pounds, 7 shillings in 1811 for “keeping Cate Negro three weeks at Nine shillings pr week,” and $129.50 in 1813 for “keeping Cate 46 weeks.”
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.