Plaque location: Sill Lane Green
No one knows how Mingo, described as “Edward Dewolfes negro man forever,” reached Lyme, but New London County Court records in 1704 tell us that he was difficult to understand and “spoketh broken inglish.”
The court case resulted from an accusation on November 9, 1704, by a visitor to Lyme from Long Island named John Rayner that he had “heard Mingo the negro of Edward Dewolfe” threaten to harm his brother Josiah Rayner. According to John Rayner, Mingo said “that he would searttainly kill Josiah Raynr this insuing winter.” The accusation may have been retaliatory. DeWolf, a carpenter, timber merchant, mill owner, and tavern keeper, had sued Josiah Rayner three years earlier for “very uncivill and Lascivious conduct” while boarding at DeWolf’s house.
At DeWolf’s request, 27 Lyme residents signed a petition on November 20, 1704, attesting to Mingo’s character and behavior. “We who have hereunto subscribed being Desired by Mr Edward Dewolfe of Lyme to Signify what Wee have observed Concerning the Carriage of Mingo his Negro Slave &c. Doe Declare yt wee do nott know of any Wronge that hee hath dun to any person Either Man Woman or Child Since hee came to This Town.” The petitioners further attested that “sd Negro hath been Industrious in his masters business.”
Thomas Lee and Matthew Griswold, both prominent Lyme landowners, stated “yt sd Negro hath ben much Conversantt att their houses And they have observed sd Negroos Carriage to be very kind amongst their children &c.” Joseph Peck similarly stated: “Ye above sd negro hath bine several times at my house and I never see nothing by him but what was sivil Carriage neather have I hurd of any bad Carriage to others by him as witness my hand.” The court subsequently dismissed the charges against Mingo.
Mingo likely provided labor at DeWolf’s saw mill on today’s Mill Brook to support the production of 20,000 barrel staves that the town allowed DeWolf to export in 1709. No other traces of Mingo’s life in Lyme have been discovered.
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.