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Those who lived enslaved in Lyme have been largely forgotten, but their footsteps can still be traced. To glimpse their paths through slavery, we turn to town reports, church records, property transactions, probate papers, county court proceedings, federal census counts,

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regional newspapers, and grave markers. We turn as well to the scattered account books, notebooks, scrapbooks, and family letters that survive in archives and local collections. In these varied sources we find notices of births, baptisms, marriages, town relief, escapes, sales, bequests, deaths, burials, military service, judicial findings, and emancipations. The available documents allow us to recover, albeit incompletely, the personal stories of some 50 enslaved persons who lived and died along Lyme Street. We know most of their names. 

Scrapbook page, c. 1860, showing a list of William Noyes's slaves

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Lewis Lewia was likely among those who sat  in the rear corners of the Meetinghouse gallery. The 1820 census shows him as head of a household that  included seven other free persons of color. Learn more about Lewis Lewia.

Not far from the corn mill, in the household of the first minister Moses Noyes, lived Arabella, Jube, Richard Jimmie, Warwick, Caesar, Grace, and an unnamed “negro woman.” On Joseph Peck Jr.’s neighboring farm lived Jack, Temperance, and Jane. In several houses owned by Rev. Noyes’s descendants lived Jenny, Prince, Nancy, Prince Jr., Pompey, Crusa, Temperance, Jordan, Harry, Sabina, Samuel, Sophie, Henry, and Samuel, an indentured “Indian boy” who ran away at age 19. Not far from the public landing, Luce served on Rev. David Deming’s farm. 

In households and warehouses, on farmland, and at a busy coaching inn near the junction with the ferry road, labored Cato, Phillis, Basil, Lewis, Margaret, James, Eunice, Humphrey, Jordan, Ezelhie, Clo, Caeser, Shambaes, and Corrydon, along with at least six enslaved persons mentioned but not named. Almost certainly there were others. 

Lyme impressionist artist Everett Warner’s painting October Sunshine shows the Noyes-Beckwith house bathed in autumn sunlight ca. 1912. Private collection

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Gravestone, Duck River Cemetary, commemorating Nancy Freeman and Jenny Freeman'Lyme

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