In Search of the Belt Plantation Slave Burial Ground, Chevy Chase DC

Recently, Cate Atkinson, community historian with Historic Chevy Chase DC, explained that the house in which I grew up between the years 1965-1979, at 5807 Chevy Chase Parkway, NW, Washington DC, may well have been located on the site of an old burial ground, in which the remains of enslaved peop8le associated with the Belt plantation may been interred. I have recently written on the slavery-related history of this neighborhood, but it had not occurred to me that my family might have actually resided on or adjacent to an old slave cemetery. Given that much of my research and writing, including my 2011 book The Accidental Slaveowner, has revolved around enslaved burial grounds, this news has been particularly startling and fascinating.

Small triangular park at base of Oliver Street at Chevy Chase Parkway, likely part of the location of old Belt Plantation cemetery, “God’s Acre”.
Our childhood home, 5807 Chevy Chase Parkway is the white house in the center behind the park (Google Street View)

As I have noted, the manor house of the Chevy Chase plantation, established by Col Joseph Belt around 1725, is generally reckoned to have been half a block northwest of 5807, at the site that is now 3734 Oliver Street, about 500 yards southeast of Chevy Chase Circle.

Plaque to Col, Joseph Belt, at the intersection of Western Avenue and Chevy Chase Circle

Several doors away, Dr. Egbert Clark built a house at 3749 Oliver in 1908. Egbert Kent Clark, son of Dr. Egbert Clark, recalls that when sledding down the hill of Oliver Street as a child (evidently c. 1920) he would to veer sharply right to avoid headstones clustered at the base of the hill.

Belt Manor House, prior to 1907 (now the location of 3734 Oliver St, NW, Washington DC)

The following account, is given in the 1976 Walking Tour One of the Chevy Chase Neighborhood, under Stop #14.

This was the Belt family cemetery called “God’s Acre.” It covered the territory which now encompasses the intersection of Oliver and Chevy Chase Parkway, the triangular park adjacent to it and many of the surrounding houses and yards. E. [Egbert] Kent Clark, who, as we mentioned before, was a resident of Oliver Street in the early days of Chevy Chase wrote, “Just past where we lived on Oliver Street, the land dropped steeply. It was a good sledding hill, and one had to make a sharp right turn at the bottom of the hill. If you didn’t make a turn you had to dodge the tombstones in an old cemetery.” During the excavation for the houses at 5724 Chevy Chase Parkway and 3700 Oliver Street, both on the southwest corner of the intersection, around fourteen human skeletons were uncovered. The builders had them removed so that the construction crew, who had refused to work among the remains, would return and build the houses. All the remaining tombstones were removed by 1925 to make way for the streets and houses planned for the intersection. The graveyard had been in existence since before the revolution. It is believed that Colonel Belt himself was buried there in 1786. As generations of Belts lived and died, the cemetery grew. The last burials probably took place before 1885. As you stand at this Intersection, Keep in mind that although the developers of Chevy Chase removed all the tombstones and a few unexpected remains, the vast majority of those laid to rest in Chevy Chase are still there.” (Footseps: Historical Walking Tours of Chevy Case, Cleveland Park, Tenleytown, Friendship, Neighborhood Planning Councils 2 and 3, 1976. p. 32)

A related account elaborates, “The Belt graveyard covered a surprisingly
large section of land just east of the manor house, between it and the Broad Branch [the creek currently covered by Nevada Avenue). Gravestones covered an area about as big as five or six medium sized residential lots until the mid twenties when they were removed….Around fourteen human skeletons were uncovered during the construction of the house at 5724 Chevy Chase Parkway, also in the twenties. The construction crew refused to work with the pelvises, skulls and other remains lying around the newly dug basement. So the builders picked them up and carted them away.”
Origins 11, 1976, Neighborhood Planning Councils 2 and 3.

1903 map. The later “Chevy Chase Parkway” identified as 37th street. Cemetery evidently at intersection of Oliver Street and 37th street.
Baist’s real estate atlas of surveys of Washington, District of Columbia : Volume 3.
Present day map of Chevy Chase DC, showing location of old Blelt Manor House:
cemetery was at intersection of Chevy Chase Parkway and Oliver Street.

According to the 1920 census, there do not appear to be residences at 3700 Oliver or 3724 Chevy Chase Parkway, suggesting that the buildings were still under construction. By 1923, 3700 Oliver was occupied by Harold G and Frances Moulton. I am not sure of the original owners of 5724 Chevy Chase Parkway, adjacent to 3700 Oliver.

Egbert Kent Clark, Jr. (1907-1999) was born 31 Dec 1907 so his sledding memories presumably date to the late 1910s or perhaps early 1920s, prior to the 1925 final removal of the surviving headstones. I am not sure where the headstones were removed to, or if any of them have been preserved anywhere.

Cate reports that a neighbor, two doors away from the house I grew up in, recalls workers unearthed a skeleton when digging for a swimming pool.

Aerial view: 5897 Chevy Chase Parkway, showing triangular park, and the likely area of the previous Belt cemetery,
at the intersection and Oliver and Chevy Chase Parkway

As indicated in the neighborhood history account quoted above,the small triangular park in front of our old house, at the base of Oliver Street, where my sister Bonnie and I often played, was a central site of the old Belt cemetery. It seems likely that the headstones for the white family members were in the foreground area, closer to what is now the base of Oliver Street, and that enslaved people might been buried further back, that is to say closer to what is now Patterson street. Patterson descends towards Nevada Avenue, which covers the old Broad Branch Creek, which evidently ran through the old Belt plantation property. Presumably, the final resting places of the enslaved were not marked with headstones.

I am not sure if it is significant, but when we moved into 5807 in the mid-1960s, there was a pathway that ran from the triangular park along the western edge of our house, adjoining the alley that intersected with Patterson. (My mother, uncomfortable with the constant foot traffic across our front lawn, and past our dining room and kitchen, had the front yard and the rear end of this path fenced off around 1970. ) Speculatively, might this pathway have described the western boundary of the old burial ground?

Who is buried in the old slave cemetery?

Which enslaved persons might have been interred in this burial ground?

The 1761 will of Colonel Joseph Belt, which indicates many names of his enslaved persons, indicates that an unnamed a group of slaves were to be divided between the four children of Colonel Belt’s late son Joseph Belt, Jr. , including Joseph Sprigg Belt, c. 1752-1819. Presumably, some of these enslaved people remained on the Joseph Sprigg Belt property in Chevy Chase, which in turn was inherited after 1819 by his son Charles Richard Belt. Some or all of these inherited enslaved individuals seem likely to have been laid to rest in the burial ground between 1761 and 1819, when Joseph Sprigg Belt died.

As of this writing I have not located Joseph Sprigg Belt’s 1819 probate records (in the District of Columbia or Montgomery County) , which might lists the name of other enslaved people he owned, who might have been interred in this burial ground between 1819 and 1862, when Charles Richard Belt freed seven enslaved people under the terms of Compensated Emancipation.

Hannah and the Bowie Family

We can be reasonably confident that one enslaved person buried in the Chevy Chase Belt cemetery was the enslaved woman Hannah, whom Charles Richard Belt in 1862 attested was the mother of Lethia Bowie (born around 1813) and Henry Augustus Bowie (born about 1821) He writes: “Lethea and Henry are brother and sister, the children of Hannah who belonged to the late Jos. Sprigg Belt, residing in said county and they were born his property. Lethea’s children were all born at the petitioner’s residence after the death of his Father [in 1819].” Since Lethia was evidently born around 1813, we might speculate that her mother Hannah was born around 1795. I am not sure why Lethia and Henry took the surname “Bowie”; perhaps Hannah used the surname Bowie herself or perhaps Bowie was the surname of the children’s father. As I noted in a previous posting, the Belt slaveowning family married multiple times into the Bowie family, so it possible that the “Bowie” named of the enslaved family is derived from the slaveowning Bowies, a prominent Maryland extended family. (One family tree on lists Joseph Sprigg Belt as the father of the enslaved children of Lethea and Henry, but no evidence has been provided in support of this assertion.)

The enslaved Bowie family may have had some relationship to the family of Ellen Ursula Bowie Belt, 1805-1861, the sister of law of Charles Richard Belt. She was the wife of Lt William Joseph Belt (the brother of Charles Richard Belt) and the daughter of John Burgess Bowie and Catherine Duckett Hall Bowie. She was also the mother of Samuel Sprigg Belt, 1845-1920. The 1870 and 1880 censuses record Samuel Sprigg Belt residing in the household of his uncle Charles Richard Belt. (The 1870 census incorrectly lists him as “Samuel Sprigg.”) By 1880, Samuel Sprigg Belt, who was by then married to Mary Wilson Belt, was listed as the head of household.

In any event, Charles Belt in his 1862 petition indicates that he purchased a full interest in Hannah and her children from his brother Lt. William Joseph Belt after the death of their father Joseph Sprigg Belt in 1819. Charles Belt’s compensation petition implies that Hannah was deceased by 1862. Presumably she was buried on the plantation, in the burial ground near where my sister and I grew up.

nb Lethea Bowie might be the same person as Alethae Bowie (servant), born around 1816 in Maryland, listed in DC interment records: died 26 October 1866 and buried in the Colored Methodist Cemetery (Georgetown, later known as Mount Zion.)

Other slaves of Charles Belt:

Charles Belt’s 1820 census indicates he owns the following eleven enslaved persons:

Slaves – Males – 14 thru 252
Slaves – Males – 26 thru 443
Slaves – Males – 45 and over1
Slaves – Females – Under 144
Slaves – Females – 14 thru 251
1820 census, showing slaves owned by Charles Richard Belt

Presumably, the only adult female (age 14 to 25) was Hannah. One of the females under 14 may have been Lethea Bowie, who was freed in 1862 along with her children. The other nine persons do not seem to correspond to any of those listed in Charles Belt’s 1862 Compensated Emancipation petition, all of whom were born after around 1821. Those freed were Henry Augustus or Julius (later Bowie), born around 1821, and Lethea’s five children, as follows:

George Bowie, age 31, b. 1831
Andrew Bowie, age 17 born 1845
Hamilton Bowie, age 15, born 1847
Harriet Bowie age 19 born 1843

Eliza Bowie, age 13, born 1849

So it seems a reasonable inference that these nine either died, or were sold away, between 1820 and 1862. Some of these individuals may have been buried in the God’s Acre cemetery.

Note that the 1860 slave schedule, enumerated two years before Compensated Emancipation, lists Charles Richard Belt owning seven slaves, residing in one slave cabin:

Female, age 48 b. 1812

Female, age 40, b. 1820

Male, age 28, b 1832

Female, age 16, b. 1844

male, age 14, b, 1846

male, age 13, b, 1847

Female, age 10, b. 1850

The eldest female, age 48, must have been Lethea Bowie, but the 40 yeaar old female does not correspond to anyone listed in the 1862 petition, so perhaps she died or was sold away between 1860 and 1862. The other five individuals seem to correspond in ages with the five children of Lethea listed in the 1862 petition.

Eighteen years after DC emancipation, the 1880 census lists two black servants in the manor house of the old Belt plantation, by then the household of Samuel Sprigg Belt, in which Charles Richard Belt, then age 89, was still residing: William Gross, born about 1850 in Maryland, and the young women, Birtie Mason, born around 1864 in Virginia. It seems likely that William Gross, who seems to have grown up in Calvert County, District 2, Maryland, had a prior relationship with Samuel Sprigg Belt’s family, who form 1835 onwards were residing in Calvert County. MD. In 1870, the 20 year old William Gross resided about 50 households away from Ellen Ursula Bowie Belt, the mother of Samuel Sprigg Belt.

I hope at some point it will be possible to honor with markers or other signage, such as Witness Stones, the enslaved people who labored on the Belt plantation under conditions not of their own choosing, from c. 1726 to 1862, including those whose final resting places are in this old burial ground.

Addendum: Other Black Bowie Family Members?

I am not sure if Hannah, Leathea Bowie, or George Augustus Bowie might have been related to any of the following enslaved or free persons of color in the District of Columbia, with the surname Bowie:

  1. the enslaved woman Millie Bowie, who on June 10, 1824 filed a petition for freedom, asserting that her owner William M. Offutt had several years earlier illicitly transported her from Virginia to Maryland.

  1. Arnold Bowie, listed in the 1840 census as head of household, with four other free persons of color, in Washington City, District of Columbia. Arnold Bowie, born 1807, is also listed in the 1850 census in the District of Columbia, married to Mary A Bowie, b. 1811, with children James, A, Lewis, Juliana, Emily, Randall, Columbus, G.
  2. Kitty Bowie, listed in the 1840 census as head of household, with five other free persons of color, in Washington City, District of Columbia.
  3. Priscilla Bowie, listed in the 1840 census as head of household, with three other free persons of color, in Washington City, District of Columbia.
  4. Richard Bowie, listed in the 1840 census as head of household, with two other free persons of color, in Washington City, District of Columbia, one an adult woman and the other a girl under ten years old. He may been the Richard Bowie who married Anne Thomas on 21 April 1838.
  5. Four individuals, Henry Bowie and his three children, freed through compensated emancipation in 1862, as the property of Ignatius Fenwick Young, trustee of Mrs James (Anna) Brent, who had acquired these slaves through the will of her grandmother:

Henny Bowie, a mulatto woman aged about Fifty (50) years—Sound & healthy value $700
Rezin Bowie, a black boy the child of said Henny aged about Eighteen (18) years—Sound value $900.—
Hank Bowie a boy copper colored the Child of said Henny aged about Fifteen (15) years healthy value $700.
Mary Louisa Bowie, a bright mulatto girl and Child of said Henny aged about thirteen (13) years value 800.


In Search of Enslaved Persons from Chevy Chase DC

I have recently been deeply moved, and rather startled, to realize that the street on which I grew up, Chevy Chase Parkway in Northwest Washington DC, was located on the grounds of a former a slavery-based plantation, evidently in operation from the 1720s, until perhaps as late as April 1862. I have been eager to identify the enslaved people who worked this land under conditions not of their own choosing, and to trace their descendants.

Colonel Joseph John Belt (c. 1680-1761) obtained the original patent to the 500 acre Chevy Chase tract (later expanded to 1000 acres) from Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore on July 10, 1725. The Chevy Chase property was located across what is now portions of Montgomery County, Maryland, and northwest Washington DC. He reportedly built the two and half story Chevy Chase Manor House around 1725 at what is now 3734 Oliver Street, Northwest, Washington DC, a half block from where I grew up, at 5807 Chevy Chase Parkway. The manor house was a few hundreds yards southeast of Chevy Chase Circle, within what is now the District of Columbia side of border. The house was evidently occupied by Belt descendants until 1907, when it was razed.

Map of present day Chevy Chase DC, showing 3734 Oliver St, NW (former location of Colonel Joseph Belt’s Chevy Chase Manor Chose)

Colonel Joseph Belt’s 1761 will provides substantial information on the distribution of his slaves. He names 28 slaves, and indicates that there were other slaves, not named. It is not clear from the will which slaves were associated with the Chevy Chase tract, and which were linked to his other properties, such as the properties in Prince George’s Co. called “Good Luck” or “The Addition to Good Luck”, and in Frederick County, Friendship and Seneca Hills, although there may be hints that can be inferred about which enslaved people were associated with which farm.

In his will, Joseph Belt leaves these named slaves: “To his wife, males Sango, Batchelor, Wall, Bob, and Nero; and females Sarah with her children Jenny and Flora, another Jenny, Bess, Nan with her son Charles, plus a boy named Juba. He leaves his son Humphrey adult slaves named Rochester and Tom and boy slaves named Batchleor and Sango. To his grandson Joseph Sprigg, for the use of Sprigg’s mother Rachel, he leaves slaves James (adult man), Toby (boy), Babb (adult woman), and Babb (girl), said slaves to go to grandsons Osborn and Thomas sprig after Rachel’s death. To his son Tobias Belt, Joseph leaves slaves named Hercules and Toby, both adults. To his grandson Richard Belt son of Jeremiah, he leaves a slave girl named Jenny. To his grandson Thomas Belt son of Joseph, he leaves a girl named Pegg and a man named Shrewsbury. To William Belt (grandson?) he leaves a girl named Jenny and a boy named Sam. The will states that his remaining slaves are to be divided among several of his children.”

1761 will of Joseph Belt, bequeathing several enslaved persons, including, Toby, Babb (woman), Babb (grl)

Other slaves, not named, from the Chevy Chase Plantation were to be divided among four children of the the Colonel’s late son Joseph Belt, Jr. that is to say the Colonel’s four grandchildren, as follows:

1761 Last Will and Testament. Joseph Belt, referning the trace of land called Chevy Chase

1.Charles Belt, b. 1791

  1. Elizabeth Belt, b. 1756
  2. Ann Belt, b. 1767
  3. Joseph Sprigg Belt, c. 1752-1819.

In addition, some of the Chevy Chase land was bequeathed to: Thomas Belt, also a son of Joseph Belt, Jr. Thomas, who, as noted above, received the slaves Pegg and Shrewsbury from this grandfather. (Thomas Belt moved at some point to North Carolina and died there, bequeathing several slaves to his heirs and requesting that his enslaved woman ‘June’ not be sold out of the family.)

Some of the Chevy Chase land was also, it appears, inherited by William Belt.

Belt Family Background

Col Joseph John Belt was the son of John Sprigg Belt (1645-1698) who was the son of Humphrey Belt (b. Yorkshire, England, c.1615-aft. 1663 ), who arrived in Jamestown Virginia, 3 July 1635, on board the ship America. By 1663, Humphrey Belt was settled in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

It should be noted that there were many other enslaved people owned by members of the extended Belt family. For example, the will of Col Joseph John Belt’s half brother, Jeremiah Belt (1698-1768), signed 1750 and probated 1768, bequeaths to Fielder Gant the Negro Sarah and Negro Roger.

Tobias Belt and Humprey Belt: Slaves and Freepersons

Tobias “Thomas” Belt, to whom his father Colonel Joseph Belt in 1761 had bequeathed the enslaved men Hercules and Toby, died in 1785. His probate inventory for the Chelsea Plantation, Prince George’s County, lists 12 slaves, including Toby (age 53), mentioned in Col Belt’s will, although not Hercules. Also listed are Tom, age 26, Merandor (23), Dobney (14), Hannah (45) ,Nilly (20) , Sophia (15), Lurana (7), Leath (4), Esther (18), Tinney (7), Teni (?), 9,

1785 inventory, Tobias Belt, Maryland State Archives

A decade later, in Upper Malboro, Prince George’s County, in her 1795 will, Mary (nee Gordon) Belt, widow of Tobias “Thomas” Belt, emancipated Judson Norris, Jane Gilmore, Harriot Smith, and Luke Gilbert (through gradual emancipation.) Also coming off of this plantation was Alethia “Lethia” Browning Tanner, (b. 1781), listed as Leath, age 4, in the 1785 inventory, inherited by Tobias’s daughter Rachel Belt Pratt. Alethia, with the assistance of Joseph Doughtery (Thomas Jefferson’s footman), purchased her freedom in 1810. She became a prominent figure in DC black business and Methodist church circles, and purchased the freedom of her sister Laurena, (listed as Lurena, age 7, in the 1785 inventory).

Tobias’ brother, Humphrey Belt emancipated the enslaved person Trimly Digges on March 12, 1811 in Prince George’s County (Maryland State Archives).

The Prince George’s County court record for 27 June 1732, contains a complaint by William Johnson that he is a free negro who came from London in 1729 and who was sold by Captain William Spaven to Col Joseph Belt and should be released. I am unsure what happened to William Johnson.

Enslaved People in Chevy Chase

The only group of enslaved people I have been able to trace as probably remaining in Chevy Chase area appear to have been associated with Joseph Sprigg Belt, c. 1752-1819, the grandson of Colonel Joseph Belt. As noted above, Joseph Sprigg Belt was bequeathed in 1761 about a quarter of the slaves associated with the Chevy Chase tract. Some or all of their descendants seem to have come into the possession of Joseph Sprigg Belt’s son Charles Richard Belt, after 1819.

Charles Richard Belt, c. 1794-1884

In 1850, the only slaveowner with the surname Belt within the District of Columbia was (Colonel) Charles Richard Belt. After his death the Nevada-based “California syndicate.” led by Francis G. Newlands, acquired his property as his estate was settled. This process led to development of Chevy Chase in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the Chevy Chase Land Company.

1897 map showing land (shaded) acquired by Chevy Chase Land Company

Joseph Sprigg Belt, the son of Joseph Belt Jr (1717-1761) and Anne Sprigg, (1712-1775) and grandson of Colonel Joseph Belt, d. 1761, appears in the 1800 census in Prince George’s County, Maryland, owning one slave. He may be enumerated in the 1810 census as “J Bald” in Frederick, Maryland, owning eleven slaves. (Perhaps he inherited a group of slaves between 1800 and 1810.)

Joseph Spring Belt died in 1819, evidently in Prince George’s County. I have not yet located his will or probate inventory.

Charles Richard Belt, born about 1794, was the son of Joseph Sprigg Belt III, 1752-1819, who as noted above, was bequeathed by his grandfather Col. Joseph Belt in 1761 about one quarter of the slaves held on the Chevy Chase tract. His mother was Sarah Burgess, b. 1769-1794). Upon their father’s death in 1819, Charles and his brother (Lt) William Belt were willed several slaves, including Hannah, perhaps born around 1795, and her daughter Lethea (later Lethi or Lethea Bowie), perhaps born around 1813. Hannah later bore a son Augustus or Julius, who later took the name Henry Gustus or Henry Bowie. Charles, according to his 1862 emancipation petition (quoted below) at some point bought out his brother William’s interest in these slaves.

1n 1820, the year after his father’s death, Charles Richard Belt owned eleven slaves:

2 males, ages between 14 and 25
3 male ages between 26 and 44,
one male. age 45
four female, under 15
1 female, age 14 to 25

In 1840, Charles Richard Belt owned thirteen slaves:

2 males, under age 10
2 males, ages 10 through 23
1 male, age 36 through 54
3 females, under 10
3 females, 10 through 23
1 female, 24 through 35
1 female, 36 through 54

In 1850, Charles Richard Belt owned nine slaves, with ages and gender as follows;

33 Female
28 male
19 male
13 female
12 female
8 male
10 female
5 male
3 female

1850 Slave Schedule for Charles R Belt showing 9 slaves

In 1860, Charles Richard Belt owned seven slaves, still listing as his Post Office Tenleytown, District of Columbia

Female, age 46
Female, age 40
Male, age 28
Female, age 16
Male, age 14
male, age 13
female, age 10

Boschke, Topogrpahical Map Washington : D. McClelland, Blanchard & Mohun, 1861. Showing Col. C.R Blet property just south of the Washington County line

The Boschke topographical map for the late 1850s (1861) depicts Col. C.R. Belt’s residence in the same location as the old manor house constructed by his great grandfather Col Joseph Belt, due east of the east jog of the Brookville Road, immediately south of the northwest boundary line of Washington County (unincorporated District of Columbia). This location, the present day 3734 Oliver Street, is about two tenths of a mile southeast of present day Chevy Chase Circle, at the intersection of modern Connecticut and Western Avenues. (The Boschke map is slanted about 45 degrees left of north.)

1860 slave schedule (DC) for Charles Belt, showing seven slaves residing in in one slave dwelling

Enslaved and Free People of Color in the Neighborhood

The 1850 census records that among the Belt slaves’ closest neighbors was the free family color headed by Thomas Harris, including with wife Mary Harris, and their children John, Mary, Joseph, and Lewis, who resided along Broad Branch Road (the future location of the Lafayette-Pointer Park and Lafayette Elementary School), about a mile east of Belt manor house.

1850 census, showing Charles Richard Belt, and the free Harris family.

The enslaved persons on the Belt plantaiton might also have had some contact with enslaved people in the vicinity. Immediately north of Charles Belt’s property was the land of Joseph H Bradley, who in 1860 owned a 16 year old male slave, and who in 1862 petitioned for compensation for the 13 year old slave Eliza Carter. To the east was the property of Charles Bradley who is in 1850 owned two 16 year old male slaves. To the immediate south was David P Shoemaker, who in 1850 owned an 18 year old male slave. Three miles south was the District of Columbia’s largest slaveowner, Margaret Barber, the widow of Cornelius Barber) of North View (located on the land that is now the Naval US Observatory), who owned 29 persons in the 1860 slave schedule.

In April 1862, Charles Richard Belt petitioned for compensated emancipation for the following seven enslaved individuals in the District of Columbia. “Lethea Bowie, and her children George, Harriet, Andrew, Hamilton, and Eliza Bowie, and also Henry Augustus (or Julius)”

April 19 1862 Petition of Charles Richard Belt for compensated emancipation for seven slaves

The ages and descriptions of these individuals are given as follows;

Lethi (Lethea?) Bowie, age 49, b. 1813 (“Lethea is about 5 feet 6 inches high healthy, corpulent, very pleasant and polite when spoken to, a dark copper color; was raised in petitioners service and has been for many years his cook”)

Henry (Augustus) Gustus, age 34, b. 1828. (“enry is a dark copper, about five feet seven inches, strong, well made has a doure​ look, and an impediment in his speech which gives him the appearance of want of intelligence: he is however a smart active and good farm hand”)

George Bowie, age 31, b. 1831 (“George is a very valuable servant would have commanded the highest market price as a farm hand; is strong active, healthy, skilful, sincere, about if not quite six feet high, a dark copper color;”_

Andrew Bowie, age 17 born 1845 (“Andrew, a valuable servant, about five feet ten, farmhand and cobbler, polite has a hesitation in answering,)

Hamilton Bowie, age 15, born 1847 (“Hamilton dark copper speaks but seldom, greene​ look, some each in his eyes or rather defect that gives them a peculiar color quite ingenious, handles carpenters tools very well, good farm hand”)

Harriet Bowie age 19 good seamstress, born 1843 (“Harriet about five feet six inches high, copper color; good appearance, good sempstress, and able servant, faithful and honest,)

Eliza Bowie, age 13, born 1849 (“Eliza, copper color well grown for her age, stoops a little when backing, good face, good natured, pleasant when spoken to, about five feet high”)

Charles Richard Belt in his 1862 petition for compensation elaborates that “Lethea and Henry are brother and sister, the children of Hannah who belonged to the late Jos. Sprigg Belt, residing in said county and they were born his property. Lethea’s children were all born at the petitioner’s residence after the death of his Father. Mr. Jos Sprigg Belt left his two children, your petitioner and his brother William J. Your petitioner after the death of his said father in 1819 continued to reside at the home place. Hannah the mother of Lethea and Henry lived with him as his slave, and he subsequently purchased the interest of his brother in these servants.”

In addition, a compensated emancipation petition filed by the clerk Morris Adler (1780-1872) of Georgetown indicates that he purchased an Ann Bowie, age 22, for $800 from Charles Richard Belt. A filed bill of sale dated 15 September 1859 indicates that Ann Bowie “is now working in the home of Morris Adler,” to whom she had evidently been rented out as a domestic servant. Ann, born around 1840, presumably was a daughter of Lethea Bowie.

I do not know if Lethea Bowie was related to the Lethe, later the well known Alethia “Lethia” Browning Tanner, (b. 1781), listed in the 1785 probate inventory for Tobias Belt.

The Free Bowies after Emancipation

I do not see a subsequent reference to Lethea Bowie, born about 1813, after her 1862 emancipation. She may be related to Lethee Bowie, age 45, born around 1817, who was manumitted in the District of Columbia in April 1862 by George Hatton, who had purchased her in 1856 from B. O. Sheckells. This Lethee is the mother of three year old John Bowie, born around 1859.

Three years after Emancipation, on 17 Aug 1865 “Henry Gustus,” the brother of Lethea Bowie and son of Hannah, entered into a contract with J.W.A. Hobbes, registered with the Freedmen’s Bureau in the District of Columbia, for a wage of ten dollars per month. He next appears in the 1870 census in Washington Ward Seven as “Henry Bowie,” married to Lucy, and residing with Elizah Dorsey, domestic servant, who may been a kinswoman. The 1871 census records Henry Bowie, laborer, at 1 st near K southwest. He may be the same Henry Bowie who in 1893 in DC applied for a pension of having served in the 10th United States Colored Calvary. Perhaps he is the same Henry Bowie working as a laborer in DC in the 1890s and 1900s for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, and in 1902 residing at 108 Canal street, SW.

George Bowie, the eldest child of Lethea Bowie, is listed in the 1867 city directory as a miller, colored, at 6th n Market, Georgetown. He appears in the 1870 census in Georgetown, as a 40 year old, so born around 1830 working in a flour mill and living with his children:

John J Bowie, age 19, b. 1851
Annie E Bowie, age 15, b. 1855
Mary Bowie, age 12, b 1857
Elizabeth Bowie, age 10, b 1860

These children’s mother and the spouse of George Bowie was clearly Caroline Bowie, age 24 (born about 1838) who was emancipated in 1862, by Notley Enoch Moreland (1803-1863) In this emancipation petition, Moreland lists as the children of Caroline: Jack Broom, Annie Broom, Mary Bowie, and unnamed child, not yet christened, who must have become Elizabeth Bowie. Moreland states in his compensation petition he acquired Caroline through his “present wife” and that all the enslaved children were born after Caroline came into his possession. This is a little puzzling since Notley Moreland’s wife was Christina, nee Joy, whom he married February 1, 1826, evidently twelve years before Caroline Bowie was born.

Jack (later John) and Annie, it should be noted, are listed in 1862 as “of yellow complexion” so it is possible that their father was white (or was perhaps the free mulatto Jackson Broom, of Georgetown), and not actually George Bowie, who may have adopted them after Emancipation.

Notley Moorland, like Charles Richard Belt, listed Tenleytown as his post office, so the enslaved couple George and Caroline were likely in proximity to one another.

The 1879 city directory lists Caroline Bowie, dressmaker, as the widow of George R. Bowie, who must have died previous to that date, after 1870. The 1880 census shows Caroline as servant, residing in the home of the black barber, James Lyles, at 7 Rock Street (now 27th street) in Georgetown.Caroline also is listed in the 1893 city directory, at 1234 Rock NW (now 27th street, south of N Street.). (Note that a younger Caroline Bowie, also widowed, is also in the 1880 census, listed as a messenger in the Interior Department. living at 510 19th street.)

George and Caroline’s son John J Bowie marries Rebecca West on 27 December 1869. In 1879, John Bowie is listed as a laborer living at 115 L Street, Southeast. In the 1880 census, John and Rebecca reside in Goal Alley between 6th and 7th avenues, NW, with their children Lincoln, Gertrude, Frank, and Susan. Lincoln Bowie marries Lina Price 23 August 1888, and then have at least one child, Robert Bowie, 1900-1928. The 1891 city directory lists both John J Bowie, “fireman” and his son Lincoln Bowie, “fireman” residing at 2222 Virginia NW, in DC. Lincoln Bowie in 1905 is at 1212 4th NW. John Bowie appears in the 1910 census as a news dealer in Washington Precinct 6, living at 480 Washington Street NW, still married to Rebecca (laundress), with their son Lincoln Bowie, employed as an engineer at the US Capitol.

Lincoln’s younger brother Frank Bowie, marries 4 February 1902 in DC. His World War One registration card lists his full name as Francis John Frank Bowie, occupation fireman at the Raleigh Hotel, residing at 1713 Florida Avenue.

George’s sister and Lethea’s daughter Harriet Bowie, is a bit perplexing. The 1870 census lists two black women named Harriet Bowie of approximately the same age residing in Georgetown, who might be the same person (census enumerators sometimes counted the same individual twice.) First, a Harriet Bowie, born around 1850, is listed as a domestic servant in the household of the white man William Thomas (book binder) and his wife Mary Thomas in Georgetown. Second, a Harriet Bowie, also a domestic servant, born about 1845, is living in Georgetown, in the household of Richard Canter, a black laborer. (Recall, that the Harriet Bowie emancipated by Charles Richard Belt in 1862 was listed age 19 so born around 1843). This same woman appears in the 1879 city directory as Harriet Bowie, cook, residing at 171 High Street, (present day Wisconsin Avenue), Georgetown. The 1880 census records her, as born January 1848, residing on High Street in the home of her “sister” “Clara Canter,” widow of Richard Canter. The 1881 city directory shows her as a servant living at 3506 Prospect in North Georgetown (now, adjacent to Georgetown University). In the 1890 the city directory lists both Harriet Bowie, cook, and Clara Canter at 1623 32nd street, adjacent to Tudor Place in Georgetown. The 1900 census records Clara Canter living at 1670 “Valley” street (the old name for 32nd street) but with no sign of Harriet.

A Harriet Bowie marries a Benjamin Machall on 29 September in 1872 in DC but I can no further reference of a Benjamin Machall or a Harriet Machall.

This might mean that Clara Canter was the twin sister of “our” Harriet Bowie, and hence another daughter of Leathe Bowie, but i am not sure of this.

Leatha’s daughter Eliza appears in Freedmen’s Bureau records of May 6, 1866, living on G Street between 6th and 7th, in a household of two persons, as “sick,” supplied with groceries by the visiting Freedmen’s Bureau agent. The next year she is listed in the 1867 city directory lists as Elizabeth Bowie, cook, colored, 3rd street, west corner G north. She is evidently the same woman as the Eliza Bowie who died of an inflammation of the brain in 1869, age 20, residing in Georgetown.

Leathea’s evident daughter Ann Bowie, born about 1840, (who was sold by Charles Richard Belt in 1859 to Morris Adler, who manumitted her in 1862) is difficult to trace. She is clearly not the Anna Bowie, born 1841, a free woman of color and washerwoman listed in the 1860 census, in Washington Ward 1, married to a James Bowie. She is too old to be the Anna Bowie, born about 1861, who marries Phillip Whiting in 1883. She might possibly be the Ann Bowie, born 1841 in Maryland, married to William Bowie, with son Frank Bowie, residing in Washington Ward 2 in the 1870 census. She appears as widowed, a servant, in the 1880 census, residing with her daughter Ellen Bowie, born 1860, at 1130 3rd St NW. She appears as widowed, a cook, in the 1900 census, at 1219 16th street (at M street), in the household of the white man John Evans, whose nephew is a bank clerk.

I do not see references to brothers “Andrew Bowie” or “Hamilton Bowie,” the sons of Lethea, after their 1862 emancipation.

However, residing in 1870 with George Bowie and his children in Georgetown is an Andrew Reed, common laborer, born 1845, the same year. So perhaps Andrew Bowie changed his name to Andrew Reed, for some reason. This Andrew Reed, widowed, appears in the 1920 census, living with his son John W Reed.

Also, it is possible that Hamilton Bowie appears in the 1870 census as Hamilton Lyles, servant, born 1852 in Maryland, residing in the household of Robert and Maria Johnson in Georgetown, DC. This Hamilton Lyles marries Emily Bouldin on 15 August 1873. In the 1880, 1900 1910, 1920 and 1930 censuses, the family is residing in Orange, New Jersey; with daughter Elizabeth,

Other Persons of Interest

Sprigg Bowie, born 1851 in Maryland, may have been related to the Bowie family enslaved by Charles Richard Belt, whose father Joseph Sprigg Belt, was the son of Anne Sprigg and Joseph Belt Jr. It may also be relevant that Joseph Belt’s daughters Mary and Rachel both married into the Sprigg family. Sprigg Bowie appears in the 1879 city directory residing in Willow Ave, SW, and in the 1880 census on C Street, SW, residing with his brother in law Moses Holt and his sisters Amelia Holt and Rachel Butler. The 1891 city directory lists him at 315 C Street SW The 1900 census shows him married to Elizabeth Bowie, with a son Sprague or Sprigg Bowie (Jr.). Sprigg Bowie Sr marries 14 May 1903 to Henrietta Diggs (1858-1933.) He was employed as a railroad porter and died August 2, 1917. He was funeralized at Metropolitan Zion Wesley Church on D Street SW.

Antebellum Bowie Slaveowners and Free Persons

Where does the Bowie name came from? The fact that both Lethe, born about 1813, and Henry Augustus, born around 1828, used the Bowie surname, would suggest it may have been the surname of their father (either enslaved or free, black or white), or perhaps it was a name used by their enslaved mother Hannah.

There were several free persons of color with the Bowie surname in the District of Columbia and Maryland during the antebellum period, including:

–The 1840 and 1850 census lists in DC the free couple Arnold and Mary A Bowie, and their children, James, A, Lewis, Julian, Emily, Randall, Columbus, and G Bowie.

The evident son of Arnold and Mary Bowie, James Bowie, born 1837 appears as a free man of color in the 1860 census, married to Anna Bowie, born 1841, washerwoman, in Washington Ward 1. They also appear in the 1870 census, with James Bowie listed as a waiter in a hotel, Ann as a dressmaker, and their 15 year old daughter Teresa Bowie in school. James seeks likely to be the son of Arnold and Mary Bowie, listed in the 1850 census.

James’ brother Randall Bowie, (b. 1847, d, 27 April 1933) served as a teamster in the US Navy during the Civil War. He marries Susan around 1880, and is buried in Arlington Cemtery.

I am not sure if this Bowie family has any relationship to Hannah (Bowie), the mother of Lethea and Henry Bowie, manumitted by Charles Richard Belt in 1862.

–The 1850 census in DC lists a free black man Charles Bowie, living in the household of Elisha Riggs, banker (the founder of Riggs National Bank).

The 1862 Compensated Emancipation petitions for the District of Columbia list about 14 newly freed persons name Bowie, in addition to Lethe Bowie and her six children, emancipated by Charles Richard Belt. These are:

  • Ann Bowie, age 22, owned by Morris Adler, who (as noted above) purchased Ann for $800 from Charles Richard Belt on 15 September 1859.
  • Clarissa Bowie, aged 20, owned by William H Dougal
  • Louisa Bowie, age 8, owned by Mary M. Dodds
  • Sandy or Frank Bowie, age 14, owned by Albert B. Berry of Maryland (who states he owned Sandy’s mother and that Sandy was hired out in the District of Columbia)
  • Lethee Bowie, age 45 and her son John, age 2, owned by George W. Hatton, who purchased Lethee from B. O. Sheckells, in 1856.
  • Caroline Bowie, age 34, and her children Jack Broom, age 8, Annie Broom, agr 7, Mary Bowie, age 3, owned by Notley Moreland, who acquired Caroline from his wife, Christina Jay, nee Givens. (As noted above, Caroline is clearly the wife of George Bowie, eldest son of the Leathe Bowie emancipated by Charles Richard Belt.). Moreland also emancipates Nace Johnson, purchased from the estate of Richard Bowie.
  • Nicholas Bowie, age 15, owned by Martha Manning
  • Jack Bowie, age 27, owned by J.C. and H.A. Willard
  • Henny Bowie, age 50, and her sons Rezin Bowie, age 19, and Hank Bowie, age 15, and her daughter Mary Louisa Bowie, age 14, emancipated by Fennick Young trustee for Mrs. L Anna Besuch? wife of Francis A Besuch?

It may be significant that the Belt family intermarried at least twice with the prominent Bowie family of Maryland. Perhaps the enslaved Bowie name was somehow connected to one these white Bowie lines?

There may be historical connections to the estate of (U.S. Congressman) Walter Ferguson Bowie, 1748-1810. who in 1790 in Prince George’s County, Maryland, owned 47 slaves and in 1800 owned 63 slaves. He was an immediate neighbor of at least eight Belt family households, including Osborne Belt, Thomas Belt, Mary Belt, Jonathan Belt (of Thomas), Benjamin Belt, James Belt. Benjamin Belt (of James), Middleton Belt. His widow was .Mary Townley Brooks Bowie (1747-1812)

One of the leading Bowie slaveowners was Mary Bowie, of Queen Anne’s District, Prince George’s County, who in 1820 owned 75 slaves.

The 1850 slave schedule for Maryland lists 34 slaveowners with the surname Bowie, including ten in the Marlborough District of Prince George’s county, where the Belts had property.

The 1850 slave schedule for the District of Columbia lists one slaveowner, R Bowie, with the surname Bowie, owning seven slaves. He is a physician in Georgetown.

The 1860 slave schedule for the District of Columbia lists one slaveowner with the surname Bowie, Cora Bowie, owning one enslaved woman aged 35.

Two years later, in 1862, compensated emancipation petitions were filed by three Bowie slaveowners in the District:

  1. Mrs. Melvina Bowie (nee Berry) for seven individuals: Wm Ross, James Shriner, Lemuel Terry, Celia Ross, Rachel Terry, Manny Ross Susan Terry. She acquired these slaves through the estate of her late husband, Allen Perrie Bowie who died in 1855, in Prince George’s County.

2. Thomas C Bowie emancipated Sophia Coolidge, obtained through the will of his Grandmother Mary Weems of Prince Georges County.

3. Robert (Rob) Bowie, of Prince George’s County, emancipated Sidney Coolidge, age 50, whom he had acquired through the will of his mother, Mary M Bowie. Sidney is the husband of Sophy Coolidge: the couple had lived for several years in the District, and Sidney had spent time in both DC and Prince George’s County.

I hope continued research will be able to identify enslaved people who resided and labored in the Chevy Chase area, and to trace their descendants.

Acknowledgements: Carl Lendowski (Historic Chevy Chase DC) alerted me to the history of the Belt’s slavery-based plantation during a recent walking tour of my old neighborhood. Many thanks to Carlton Fletcher for letting me know that Colonel C.R. Belt is marked on the 1861 Botschke map.

The Brooks Family and the 1928 Land Dispossession in Chevy Chase, Northwest Washington DC

This past Saturday, March 25, 2023, following the DC History Conference, I was given a fascinating tour of the neighborhood in which I grew up by Carl Lankowski, President of the community organization Historic Chevy Chase DC. We concentrated on three remarkable signs unveiled in June 2021 by the organization, on the grounds of what is now known as Lafayette-Pointer Park, previously Lafayette Park, adjacent to Lafayette Elementary School, the institution which I attended, Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, that is to say, Fall 1966 through Spring 1973.

The project is summarized at

When I attended Lafayette, the school and the neighborhood were overwhelmingly white. Until a few years ago, I had not realized that these circumstances, as the organization puts it, exemplified “segregation by design.” For many properties in Chevy Chase DC (that is to say, the part of Chevy Chase south of Western Avenue, within the District of Columbia), restrictive covenants were in place, legally preventing sale of property to non-white owners. For other properties, softer barriers seem to have been operative to prevent residential diversity, including mortgage lending practices (“red lining”) and related social and economic pressures.

Most important, and shamefully, in 1928, DC municipal authorities, working closely with white civic leaders, acquired substantial land property from its historic African American owners, who had resided there in some instances for nearly eight decades, in order to establish the grounds of Lafayette Elementary School and Lafayette Park and playground, which were to remain essentially all white spaces for decades. This same set of legislative actions led to the acquisition of lands on which Alice Deal Junior High and Woodrow Wilson High schools would be constructed, based on the veritable ethnic cleansing of Reno City, a large and vibrant African American (and white) working class neighborhood near the site of the Civil War site Fort Reno.

Brooks Family Background

I began to become aware of this history several years ago, as I was tracing the history of the Brooks family, who had been enslaved, by the white Nourse family on the grounds that later became the Washington National Cathedral and Sidwell Friends School. Sidwell, as it happens, is where i attended High School, several years after graduating from Lafayette. As I have written elsewhere, Sarah Brooks and her children, Theodore, William Henry, Abraham, Margaret, John, and Rachel, were all enslaved by Charles Josephus Nourse and Charles’ wife Rebecca Morris Nourse. At some point in the late 1850s it appears, Sarah’s husband William Brooks purchased the freedom of his wife and their children.

William, so far as I can tell, was purchased with his mother Ann and his siblings in 1827, by Joseph Nourse, the first Registrar of the US Treasury, who was the father of Charles Josephus Nourse. William evidently acquired his freedom before the enumeration of the 1850 census, when he is listed as a free man of color, working as a coachman, residing at the Nourse plantation known as the Highlands, the future site of the Sidwell Friends middle and upper schools.

As I’ve written, the 1860 census enumerates Sarah Brooks and her children as free people of color, residing at the Highlands, in the household of Rebecca Nourse, widow of the late Charles Josephus Nourse. Yet, in 1862, William Brooks petitioned for compensated emancipation for his wife Sarah and their six children under the terms of the DC Emancipation Act. Presumably, while the Nourses allowed the Brooks family to be listed as free in the 1860 census as free, Saran and her children had not yet officially been manumitted, so William Brooks, who must have previously purchased them from the Nourses, took advantage of the Emancipation Act to free his wife and offspring formally and petition for some payment.

Compensated emancipation petition, 1862, submitted by William Brooks for his wife Sara and six children

After Emancipation, Sarah Brooks continued to work at the Highlands as the cook. Before the Civil War, William and Sarah Brooks had worshipped at Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church, a church closely associated with the Nourse family on the Mount Albans property. From 1861 onwards she worshiped at First Methodist Episcopal Independent Church, and remained a member until her death on 18 May 1875 She was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery in Georgetown. (Some of this research is summarized in an article in the Washingtonian Magazine). Members of the Brooks family appear in an 1885 photograph taken behind Zartman House, the old Highlands manor house, now in the Sidwell Friends Archives.

1885 photograph, behind the Highlands big house (now Zartman House, Sidwell Friends School)
Showing “Rachel Brooks, dook,” her daughter, and other African American staff memebrs. Sidwell Friends School Archives

Sarah and William Brooks’ son, William Henry Brooks (b 1851, died around 1903), at some point converted to Catholicism, and married Laura Dover, who grew up next door to the Brooks family in Tenleytown. north of the Highlands. They named their first born Francis (“Frank”) Denecker Brooks, evidently in honor of the Jesuit Father Francis Xavier Denecker (c. 1819-1879), who had some connections with Georgetown College.

Frank Brooks on 5 Feb 1896 married Mary Briggs. The couple initially lived in Reno City, which was, as noted above, a semi-autonomous African American community around the old Fort Reno, adjacent to Tenleytown. They may have resided in the home of Frank’s father William Henry Brooks. By 1900, Frank and Mary and their children had moved to Rock Creek Ford Road, a couple of miles east of Reno City. They resided next door to the father of Mary Briggs Brooks, William Briggs.

Mary died at some point between 1903 and 1910, and Frank continued to reside on Rock Creek Ford Road until at least 1912. (Currently Rock Creek Ford Road is east of Rock Creek Park, but I assume that around the turn of the century it ran across Rock Creek, as the name suggests.) I explore some of this history in my essay “Traveling Together.

The Brooks on Broad Branch Road

Franks Brooks remarried on 13 Dec 1913, to Sarah J. Gravett, who assisted in raising Frank’s young motherless children. By 1917, the couple was living on Broad Branch Road, on the property where they would reside for the next eleven years. I am not as of this writing sure if they purchased land, or were renting, perhaps from members of the Harris family, the African Americans who long owned farmland along Broad Branch, on the land that would later become Lafayette-Pointer park. (Many members of the Harris family are buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, where Sarah Brooks, the grandmother of Frank Brooks, is also interred.)

1919 Baist Atlas, denoting Black owned land on Broad Branch Road (Chevy Chase, NW Washington DC) in purple

The 1919 Baist Atlas depicts the 6 acre plot of Black-owned land along Broad Branch Road in purple. Land owners listed include P. Harris, J.H (Joseph) Harris, D. Harris, Mary Moten (the daughter of Mary Harris), R (Richard) Shorter, James Johns, and John L. Hyson. There does not appear to be an indication of the Brooks family on this property map.

However, the next year the 1920 census records Frank and Sarah Brooks residing on Broad Branch with Frank’s children by his previous marriage to Mary Briggs Brooks, Mary Francis Brooks (b 1900) Lillian Brooks, (b 1902), and Bessie Brooks (b. 1904). The Brooks are listed just between Joseph Harris and Mary Moten, which might imply, based on the 1919 Baist Map, that they were living on the property of D. Harris, about halfway between Patterson and Oliver Streets, on the east side of Broad Branch Road.

1920 Federal Census, showing African American residents on Broad Branch Road

The 1928 city directory records a street address for Frank and Sarah, at 5819 Broad Branch Road. (A 1929 Washington Post article lists Mary Moten’s address as 5803 Broad Branch Road).

We do know that in 1928, the District of Columbia authorities exercised eminent domain to acquire all six acres of this black-owned land, to establish the twelve and a half acre property on which would be built Lafayette Elementary School and Lafayette Park. Frank and Sarah Brooks at this point must have been forced off of the land where they had resided since at least 1917.

The 1930 census records Frank and Sarah in the Washington township of Falls Church, Virginia, where they would continue to live up until Sarah’s death in 1963. Frank’s great granddaughter, Bettye Howe Saunders, visited Frank at this farm property when she was young, and does not recall him ever discussing his time on Broad Branch Road. After Sarah’s death, Frank moved to Baltimore to spend his final years with his daughter Lillian.

Acknowledging Historic Injustice: the Lafayette-Pointer Interpretive Signs

As noted, community activists campaigned in recent years to rename Lafayette Park, Lafayette Pointer park, honoring Captain George Pointer, born enslaved in 1779, whose granddaughter and other descendants settled in the Broad Branch Road property. With City Council approval, they succeeded in erecting three historical signs on the park property in June 2021.

Sign for Lafayette Pointer Park, near Recreation Center and 33rd street, Chevy Chase, NW Washington DC

A sign overlooking Broad Branch Road features a commissioned artist’s rendition of the moment on July 4, 1828, when Mary Plummer Harris and her grandfather Captain George Pointer, piloted President John Quincy Adams to the groundbreaking of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Mary Plummer Harris, the accompanying text notes, in the 1850s purchased a 2.3 acre farm, “on this spot.” The sign also reproduces a 1928 photograph of Mary Harris’ granddaughter Mary Moten sitting in front of her nearby house.

Sign with Lafayette Elementary School, near Broad Branch Road and Oliver Streets
sign placed overlooking Broad Branch Road and Oliver Streets, in Lafayette Pointer Park, Chevy Chase neighborhood, NW Washington DC

A more detailed two-faced sign, also bearing the title, “Segregated by Design,’ was placed in about 100 feet to the east of the first sign, in front of the Park’s recreation center, near 33rd street. The west facing side recounts the history of four generations of the African American Harris family, descended from Captain George Pointer, including the military service of brothers John Harris and George Harris in the 1st Colored Troops Regiment of Washington DC during the Civil War. The sign at its base reproduces a striking photograph of the August 2015 reunion of Pointer family descendants on this land,

The east facing sign explores in more detail the legacies of Black land loss in Chevy Chase DC neighborhood, including the dispersal after 1928 of Harris family members, many to southeast DC. Much of the sign’s text is devoted to the life of George Pointer, based on a detailed petition he submitted in 1828 to safeguard his imperiled house along the C & O Canal.

Segregated by Design sign west face, near Recreation Center, Lafayette Pointer Parker
Lower half, Segregation sign, west face, Lafayette Pointer Park
Segregated by Design sign, East face, Lafayette Pointer Park
Segregation by Design, sign east face. detail .

The signs are wonderful, but I note that they have no mention of the family of Frank Brooks, which was also severely impacted by the coercive 1928 land dispossession process. Perhaps, in consultation with Frank Brooks’ descendants, interpretive signage will be developed and erected to honor their family’s history on this property

Slavery in the Neighborhood

Until Carl gave me the walking tour this weekend, I simply had not realized that Colonel Joseph Belt, (1680-1761), the major slaveholder and landowner in the area, had built in 1725 his Chevy Chase Manor House on what is now Oliver Street, a half block away from the house I grew up in (5807 Chevy Chase Parkway). On January 12, 1721,Colonel Belt received a patent from the estate called Chevie Chase 550 acres that eventually expanded to 1,000 acres. The region’s name inspired by Cheviot Hills, the boundary zone between England and Scotland; Chase may have seem appropriate given the hunting opportunities of this zone in the early 18th century. Belt, who married a daughter of Ninian Beall in 1707 was a significant slaveowner. His 1761 will names a number of enslaved people, as follows:

“In his will, “…Joseph leaves these named slaves: To his wife, males Sango, Batchelor, Wall, Bob, and Nero; and females Sarah with her children Jenny and Flora, another Jenny, Bess, Nan with her son Charles, plus a boy named Juba. He leaves his son Humphrey adult slaves named Rochester and Tom and boy slaves named Batchleor and Sango. To his grandson Joseph Sprigg, for the use of Sprigg’s mother Rachel, he leaves slaves James (adult man), Toby (boy), Babb (adult woman), and Babb (girl), said slaves to go to grandsons Osborn and Thomas sprig after Rachel’s death. To his son Tobias Belt, Joseph leaves slaves named Hercules and Toby, both adults. To his grandson Richard Belt son of Jeremiah, he leaves a slave girl named Jenny. To his grandson Thomas Belt son of Joseph, he leaves a girl named Pegg and a man named Shrewsbury. To William Belt (grandson?) he leaves a girl named Jenny and a boy named Sam. The will states that his remaining slaves are to be divided among several of his children.”

As of this writing, it is unclear which of these enslaved people labored on the Chevy Chase plantation. The will further specifies, “I hereby give and bequeath all other negroes on the said tract of land called Chevy Chase to be divided as near in value as may be between my grandchildren Charles Belt, Elizabeth Belt, Ann Belt, and Joseph Belt, children of my son Joseph Belt.” (Joseph Belt Jr appears to have died before Colonel Joseph Belt, Sr, and thus property was bequeathed directly to the grandchildren.)

Full will on Family Search at:

Various tracts in Chevy Chase were bequeathed to his grandson Thomas Belt, son of Joseph (who, as noted above, received the slaves Pegg and Shrewsbury) and his grandson William Belt (who received the slaves Jenny and Sam). Thomas Belt moved at some point to North Carolina and died there, bequeathing several slaves to his heirs and requesting that the enslaved woman ‘June’ not be sold out of the family.

Perhaps future interpretive signage can honor these enslaved people, and others owned by successive generations of Belts, some of whom continued to work the land now known as Chevy Chase, both on the Maryland and District sides of the border.

Personal Reflections

My academic training was as an Africanist Anthropologist, and I did fieldwork for three years in a village in Eastern Zambia. I have been deeply engaged throughout my professional life in southern and central African history and worked a good deal on aspects of Afro Atlantic and African American history, including on the dynamics of the slave trade and the material culture of enslavement. Since the late 1990s, I have actively worked to document and commemorate local histories of enslavement and racial injustice in various locations across the United States, beginning in Georgia’s Newton County, around the site where Emory College, the forerunner of Emory University, was founded in 1836. My first book, The Accidental Slaveowner, traces the history of many African American families who, in slavery and freedom, helped to construct and care for Emory across the generations. Research on this book led me to trace the post-slavery experiences of Russell Nathan Boyd, who had been enslaved as a child by Bishop James Osgood Andrew, Emory’s first Board president, and who made a life for himself and his family in post Civil War Washington DC, becoming in time a respected librarian at the US Department of State. This work led me to reconstruct the story of enslaved people, many of whom had roots in Mount Vernon, and their labor quarrying the stones from which the first Smithsonian building (“The Castle”) was constructed. I’ve worked with my students on stories of enslaved people associated with Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and more recently on slavery stories in the environs of what is now Mount Holyoke College, where i currently teach. I have also, as noted, collaborated with the Brooks-Howe family descendants and others to document the history of those enslaved on the grounds that later became Dumbarton House, Washington National Cathedral and Sidwell Friends School. More recently I have worked with the team at the Female Union Band Society and Mount Zion Cemetery in Georgetown, DC, to reconstruct the lives and legacies of families who loved ones are interred in that storied African American burial ground.

And yet, I most acknowledge that I never really gave any thought to the racial history of the Chevy Chase neighborhood, in which I resided from the age of four until nearly eighteen, that is to say from 1965 to early 1979. In hindsight, this seems to me remarkable. My parents were active in the Civil Rights movement, and we regularly attended anti war and Civil Rights demonstrations in DC and elsewhere.

Although Lafayette was an enormously white space while we attended elementary school, we had African American teachers whom we admired and we learned to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” from an early age. (Indeed, after leaving Lafayette, we were both surprised to discover that most white Americans were entirely unfamiliar with the song.) Although we did have a unit on African history at Lafayette, we certainly never learned about the nearby Belt plantation, centered on a Manor House a few doors away from our home, where generations of enslaved African Americans labored under unimaginably harsh conditions from the 1720s to the Civil War era. And we certainly never learned about the Harris and other African American families who had been property owners on the land of Lafayette Park, where we played and hung out from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, and where I would later run though while practicing for Cross County during my high school years. Looking through my north-facing bedroom window on the third floor of our capacious house on Chevy Chase Parkway, I often would draw and paint the hilly landscape of the neighborhood, which I found enormously beautiful, never thinking that there might have been black landowners just up the hill, until 1928, just two years before my father Joe was born. As it happens, our alma mater at Lafayette began with the lines, “Long live our Lafayette/High on the Hill..” and I can’t help but wonder if those lyrics, by one of the school’s early music teachers, unconsciously were racially coded, celebrating the school’s geographical distinctiveness from the majority black city the existed to the east and south, at lower elevations.

I certainly knew nothing about the efforts by the white supremacist land developer Francis G. Newlands (to whom is dedicated the fountain in Chevy Chase Circle, adjacent to his old mansion, two blocks from our home) to create an entirely white trolley car suburb through the Chevy Chase Land Company. Historic Chevy Chase DC has also placed a sign, at the south end of Chevy Circle, documenting Newland’s racist land planning history.

Sign about Francis Newlands and his racially informed land development in Chevy Chase, located at Chevy Chase Circle, Chevy Chase, DC,

As it happens, The Maret School, the private school that I attended for 7th and 8th grades, immediately after graduating from Lafayette (and which my sister attended 7th through 12th grades) was located on the Woodley Estate. This was the former home of Francis G. Newlands, who moved there from his earlier house, at the intersection of Chevy Chase Circle and Western Avenue. The Woodley Mansion was constructed by the uncle of Francis Scott Key, Phillip Barton Key (d. 1815), who owned 12 enslaved people in 1810. Later the property was acquired by Union General Lorenzo Thomas, a slaveowner, who in April 1862, petitioned for compensated emancipation for his three enslaved people, the laundress Lucy Berry and her two small sons, George and Lorenzo, who had been held on the property.

Thus, all three K-12 institutions I attended in the District of Columbia’s northwest quadrant–Lafayette, Maret, and Sidwell Friends–had interconnected histories of enslavement and racial injustice, histories to which I was entirely oblivious until recently.

In hindsight, I am astounded by my own blindness to this history, since in the age of the internet, a few minutes of research could have so easily unearthed the actual history of black land ownership in Chevy Chase, actively racist zoning and housing practices, and earlier history of enslavement on these grounds. I take this blindness as emblematic of the conditions of un-reflective white privilege I was born and socialized into, which existed even in our avowedly progressive white secular Jewish family, a family that for over a century has thought of ourselves on the liberationist side of history. As a child I was certainly aware that Washington was a majority Black city, but most of the time this seemed a kind of distant fact. Nearby Rock Creek Park seemed a kind of, I am ashamed to say, a defensive perimeter, that safeguarded our very white neighborhood from the rest of the city, somewhere beyond its verdant quarters. (As Historic Chevy Chase DC’s signs at Chevy Chase Circle note, even the trolley car system served a racially informed function, bringing in during the day domestic servants of color who were not allowed to reside in the neighborhood.)

Sign placed by History Chevy Chase DC, in an old call box, at Oliver and Connecticut, documenting the racially-informed history of Trolley Car transport to Chevy Chase

I’m enormously grateful to the activists and historians who have brought the history of Chevy Chase’s racial land dispossession to light, and who have thus forced me reckon with my earlier history of ignorance, in a sense willful ignorance, about a history of Black land ownership and dispossession on the landscape that I dearly loved growing up and that I continue to cherish. To be white in America while trying to be a person of conscience is to engage in a process of constant critical self reflection, slow step by slow step. Learning to see the land and places around us, especially the spaces that shaped us, through new eyes is a necessary part of that vital hard work. To see at long last the spaces of our childhood in a clearer way is to “come home” to a better place, to help call into existence a newer world that, while anchored in long histories of injustice, might just turn out, against the odds, to be a future refuge of compassion, tolerance, and truth-telling. Placing signs on the land in ways that honestly acknowledge histories of suffering and loss, is an important step along this long road towards the promised land.

In Search of Moloto Oshodi, from Mount Holyoke to Yorubaland

As my students and I have been studying early African American and African figures in the history of South Hadley and Mount Holyoke, we were fascinated to learn from Ms. Deborah Richards (Head of Archives and Special Collections) that a historical researcher ( Adenike Ogunkoya ) had brought to the attention of the Archives her important discovery: a young woman, from West Africa, Miss Omoloto (“Moloto”) O. Oshodi, resided in 1899 or 1900 in Wilder Hall at Mount Holyoke College. According to the 1900 census, she was single, born August 1876, in West Africa, age 23, her occupation listed as “maid,’ having arrived in the United States around 1889. Mary Wilder Hall was constructed in 1899, following the disastrous fire at the College in 1896, so was newly occupied.

1900 census. listing Moloto O Oshodi, age 23, as a maid, in Wilder Hall, Mount Holyoke College
Mary Wilder Hall, Mount Holyoke College. Americhrome postcard

Her Time in the United States

Immigration records indicate that Moloto Osodi (written as “Molot Osod? or perhaps Osodi”) arrived in New York on he Cunard Line ship Etruria from Liverpool, UK, on 17 December 1888. She is listed as a 12 year old “maid” traveling with the prominent Southern Baptist missionary Rev. William Joshua David, age 38, his new wife Jane, age 28, and their daughters Laurie? (i year, 8 months) and Justa ( five months). The children were been born in Africa, as was an 18 month old boy, Earle Lobant (?) traveling with this group.

1888. 17 December, Passenger manifest of the Cunard line ship Etruia, lists Miss Osodi in the party of Rev. William David.

Rev. William Joshua David was a missionary with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, from Meridian, Mississippi, who traveled to West Africa to revive the Yoruba Mission in Nigeria from 1875 to 1888, assisted initially by the important African American missionary Rev. William Colley. He arrived in Yoruba regions in June 1875 to reconstitute the Baptist church in the wake of the Yoruba civil war, baptizing evangelists in Lagos, Abeokuta, Oyo and Ogbomoso. Rev. David’s wife Nanie Bland David died on May 28, 1885, and is said with her dying breath to have urged her husband to continue his missionary work in Africa.

Rev. David, after a mission career in Lagos and elsewhere in Yorubaland, went on furlough back to the U.S. in 1888. This time period coincided with a schism with African-led segments of the Church, led by Moses Ladejo Stone (1850-1913). Rev. David did not subsequently return to Nigeria. Once returned to the United States, he established and led the Fifteenth Street Baptist Church in his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, and died in 1919 in Houston, Texas.

Peter Weis, archivist at Northfield Mount Hermon (formerly Northfield Seminary), about 40 miles north of South Hadley, reports that Miss Oshodi attended Northfield Seminary from Fall 1895 to Spring 1899. He writes:

Northfield Seminary, c 1906

“Moloto Oshodi (#1929N, x1895-1899) was indeed a student in the Northfield Seminary. In this era the Seminary had four “academic” grades (Junior, Junior Middle, Senior Middle, Senior) and two “preparatory” grades for students not yet ready to undertake the academic course. Oshodi was in the first preparatory class for two years, the second preparatory class for one, and in the Junior class for one…. She did not complete the diploma course. It’s worth noting that as the school was attended almost exclusively by students from straitened socio-economic backgrounds, only about 10% of matriculating students completed the diploma course.”

Before attending Northfield Seminary, Miss Oshodi attended Lincoln School, “for two or three years” in Meridian, Mississippi, an institution founded by the American Missionary Society in 1888, the same year Miss Oshodi was brought to the United States. She appears to have continued work for Rev. David and his family as a domestic servant during this period.

In later years, Meridian, Mississippi would serve as an important cradle of the Civil Rights movement, anchored to a significant extent in the city’s Black Baptist churches. It would be interesting to know if during her six or so years in the city 1888-1895), Miss Oshodi ( came into contact with any of the African American figures who would play formative roles in the local Black culture of resistance and self-affirmation.

The recommendation and application form to Northfield indicate that Miss Oshodi’s late father was “a farmer and a trader.” He was initially Muslim, but converted to Christianity. According to a letter, before his death pleaded with Rev. David to secure a Christian education for his daughter. Evidently her name in Lagos, her place of birth, was only “Moloto,” (or perhaps Omoloto) but Rev. David decided that it was best to give her the surname “Oshodi,” her father’s name.

Speculatively, might Miss Oshodi’s family have been related to Chief Oshodi Landuji Tapa (1789-1866), a minister in the Oba’s court in Lagos?

Perhaps after leaving Northfield Seminary, Miss Oshodi came to work at Mount Holyoke, with the plan of earning enough money to fund her return passage to Nigeria. Perhaps she continued her education through private tutoring while working at the college.

Her Time Back in Yorubaland, Nigeria

A 1979 paper by historian Babautunde Agiri records that three years after she appeared in the 1900 census, in 1903, “Miss Moloto Osodi” arrived in Ogbomoso, an important Yoruba city, now in Oyo state in southwestern Nigeria.. She applied for a teaching position in the local Baptist Training School. She had, the account notes, been taken to America by the Rev. William J David, and been educated in the United States for ten years. As Michael Ogbeidi (2013) puts it, “Reverends W. J. David and C. E. Smith encouraged Miss Moloto Oshodi and Nathaniel David Oyerinde to acquire higher education in the United States during the late 19th and the early years of the 20th centuries.” (2013: 121)

From Ogbomoso, around 1903, Miss Osodi “was later transferred to the Baptist Girls’ School in Oyo,” the ancient Yoruba capital of the Oyo Empire. (Agiri’s source for these events are 1902 and 1903 diary entries by Rev. C.E Smith, who served in Ogbomoso from 1885-1906.)

Osodi or Oshodi is a familiar Nigerian surname, found, I believe, in both Yoruba and Igbo- speaking communities. (Nigeria’s most prominent documentary photographer, George Osodi, hails from Ogwashi-Uku, a predominantly Igbo-speaking community in Delta State.) It is possible that Miss Moloto Oshodi came from a high ranking family in Yorubaland and that Rev. David, when he returned to the United States in late 1888, brought 12 year old with him, both as a maid and in anticipation of her future role in evangelizing Yoruba-speaking communities.

Miss Osodi did not matriculate at the College and does not appear in any list as a Mount Holyoke College staff member, but Ms. Richards notes that the College did not permit students to employ private maids. Two other maids, Mary Cunningham and Mabel S Hayden, are listed in the census adjacent to her, also residing in Wilder Hall.

As of this writing we have not seen post 1903 accounts of Miss Osodi’s life in Nigeria.
We hope that future research will cast more light on Miss Oshodi’s childhood, her education in the United States, and her subsequent career back in Nigeria.


BABATUNDE AGIRI . CHIEF N.D. OYERINDE AND THE POLITICAL SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF OGBOMOSO 1916-1951. Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria, Vol. 10, No. 1 (DECEMBER 1979), pp. 86-112.

Charles Maddry. Day Dawn in Yoruba Land. Broadman Press, 1939/

Michael M. Ogbeidi Nigerian returnees from the United States and educational development in colonial Southern Nigeria.  Revisita de Historia Actual (RHA) no 11. 2013. pp. 121-131

Lagos Baptists in the Development of the Nigerian Baptist Convention

In Search of Caesar Cambridge, a former enslaved man in South Hadley, Massachusetts

In his 1905 book, History of Hadley, Sylvester Judd writes, “On March 6, 1778, David Mitchell of [South Hadley] gave to his negro man, Caesar Cambridge, his freedom, in consideration of 85 pounds paid in cash, and of an order for his wages in a cruise to the brig Defence, supposed to be 40 pounds. The 125 pounds may have been equal to 100 silver dollars, which the negro had earned, partly, if not wholly, in the service of his county. The emancipating paper was recorded.” (p. 402)

In this post, I note what is known of Caesar Cambridge’s life and that of his enslaver, David Buck Mitchell.

Caesar Cambridge’s Military Service

Although the Continental Congress had passed legislation forbidding the enlistment of slaves, and although George Washington voiced early resistance to any African Americans enlisting, in practice it was not unusual for slaveowners to enlist slaves in the Continental Army, or for free men of color to serve in the revolutionary cause, in the Navy or in the Army. In some cases, although by no means all, service on the American side was followed by or associated with emancipation.

Revolutionary War records indicates that Caesar Cambridge served first on sea, then on land, then on sea again.

The earliest military service record I have seen for Caesar Cambridge notes him joining the Navy of the State of Connecticut on January 1, 1776, and being discharged in 1777, earning wages of 13 pounds (History of Maritime Connecticut during the American Revolution, 1775-1783, p. 74). During this period he served on the brigantine Defence, which was a Connecticut vessel, earlier known as the Lily Ann, before being purchased by Connecticut in late 1775. The Defence evidently entered service in April 1776.

Captained first by Seth Harding of Norwich, and then Samuel Smedley of Fairfield, the Defence was less than one hundred feet long and carried sixteen carriage six pounder guns and a crew, according to one account, of 103 officers and men. It had a dramatic naval career, especially for a relatively small vessel (a brig is smaller than an official “ship”) . Over the course of three years, the Defence captured thirteen Brisish naval vessels including about 600 prisoners. Its most daring action appears to have been in June 1776, when it captured two British ships and a brig with 330 officers and men of a Highland Regiment. (History of maritime Connecticut during the American revolution, 1775-1783, p. 408). Jackson Kuhl explains that after the Defence had captured the British ships in Boston Harbor in June 1776, Captain Smedley, was frustrated that none of the spoils went to him, his crew or the State of Connecticut, and decided to concentrate his efforts on targeting British shipping in the West Indies, a more lucrative source of prizes than the theater of naval operations in New England. The brig ultimately brought in an estimated $500,000 in prizes, some seized in the West Indies.

Connecticut, unlike the Continental Congress, only awarded the crew of its ships one third of the prizes seized, which caused considerable protest by the Defence sailors in Boston after their second successful cruise. ( Jackson Kuhl Samuel Smedley and Prize Division, Journal of the American Revolution. August 22, 2013)

Evidently, around late 1777 or early 1778, Caesar Cambridge was discharged from the Defence, perhaps in Boston.

Captain Smedley, it should be noted, was a slaveowner, although it does not appear any of his slaves served on board the Defence with him. In his 1812 Will he notes he has emancipated, “my negro boy Boston,” and set him up as a shoemaker, bequeathing his one thousand dollars, and provides $30 a year for Boston’s father York.

Revolutionary War muster rolls next record that Caesar Cambridge of South Hadley enlisted in the Continental Army on 5 March 1778 for a term of three years or the length of the war, serving in Captain Benson’s Company in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment. (This enlistment date is one day before his emancipation by David Mitchell is recorded.)

5th Massachchuetts regiment. Month of Novemebr 1778. List of Privates. Bottom Line; Caesar Cambridge, 3 year term, on Duty.

On August 5, 1778 he is listed with the rank of Private, on duty in White Plains, New York. A muster roll of December 15, 1778 records him on duty as Camp Soldier’s Fortune, which was located near West Point, New York. On October 1, 1779 he is recorded at Camp Bedford (evidently, in Westchester County, New York, a town which was burned to the ground by troops under the command of the British officer Samuel Birch on 11 July 1779 ). Caesar is referenced as discharged in a 1780 muster roll, in the “Corps of Invalids. “ (The Corps of Invalids consisted of veterans or disabled or infirm men, who could still carry out limited duties, such as guard duty; many in the Corps seem to have been posted to West Point. New York). His final discharge note appears to be on October 10, 1780, indicating he had performed guard service at West Point, for 3 months and 3 days in Lt. William Birdie’s Company.

Muster Role for Caesar Cambridge, South Hadley,, June 30 1778

These records are consistent with the known duties of the 5th Massachusetts, which during this period of the Revolutionary War was assigned to the Highlands Department, north of New York City, responsible for protecting the Hudson River from British assault.

1789 Returns of the Corps of Invalids
1780 Crop of Invalids roll. Caesar Cambridge on bottom line
July 19-Oct 10, 1780. Muster and Pay roll for Caesar Cambridge.

The next chapter is a little perplexing, given, as noted above, that Caesar was discharged from the Continental Army’s Corps of Invalids on 10 October 1780. A different records indicates that Caesar Cambridge served as a seaman on board the 20 or 28 gun Massachusetts Navy frigate Protector , commanded by Captain John Foster Williams. Caesar was engaged May 1, 1780 and discharged August 17, 1780, amounting to service of 3 months, 10 days. This means Caesar would have been involved in the Protector’s single ship action against the British privateer General Duff on June 9, 1780, off the coast of Newfoundland, in which the General Duff caught fire and exploded, leading to the rescue by the Protector of 55 British sailors.

Following the two discharges notes (of August 1780 from the Massachusetts State Navy and October 1780 from the Corps of Invalids) I do not see any subsequent reference to Caesar Cambridge. He does not, for example, appear in the 1790 Federal Census, or the subsequent Revolutionary War pension records (Not until 1818 did Congress provide for pensions for Revolutionary War veterans without disabilities.) I see no record of Caesar’s death or burial.

I should also note that as of this writing, we have not been able to locate the manumission document (6 March 1778) referred to by Judd (1905), in South Hadley Town records, the Registry of Deeds for Hampshire or Hampden County, Massachusetts Judicial records, or even in Judd’s voluminous handwritten transcriptions of historical documents, stored in the Hampshire Room of the Northampton Public Library.

The Slaveowner David Mitchell (1739-1800) and his in laws, the Wolcott Family of Wethersfield, CT

1790 census. David Mitchell. 3 white residents, 1 free person of color

David Buck Mitchell is recorded as born in Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut, 28 December 1739, the child of James Mitchell (born, Glasgow, Scotland, 1705-1776) and Mabel (Buck) Mitchell. Wethersfield, Connecticut is about 40 miles due south along the Connecticut River from South Hadley. For a comprehensive review of slavery in Wethersfield, by Martha Smart, see:

David Mitchell was the half brother of Stephen Mix Mitchell (1743-1835), who represented Connecticut in the Continental Congress and later served as a U. S. senator and the first Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Stephen Mix owned several slaves into the 1790s. In 1793, Smart notes, Stephen Mix Mitchell committed to free his slave Zimri in three years if he “behave as becomth an honest, faithful, obedient, diligent servant…and he be guilty of no stealing or bad conduct no more than is common for good servants.” Smart further observes, “in releases of 1797 and 1798, [Stephen Mix] Mitchell frees first Phillis and then Dorcas with no requirements attached. Mix notes that he bought Phillis from Rev. Napthali Dagget, late of New Haven. Dorcus he describes as a “negro girl slave.”

(The 1776 will of their father, James Michell, assigns David Mitchell land and furniture, but makes no reference of slaves.)

David Mitchell married Mary Wolcott in Wethersfield on 11 May 1761. Mary Wolcott was the daughter of Samuel Wolcott III (1713-1800), son of the wealthy “importing merchant” Samuel Wolcott Jr. (1679-1734), son of Samuel Wolcott Sr. (1656-1695) of Wethersfield, against whom, Martha Smart notes, were filed multiple charges for violent treatment of his black and Native American slaves. Among these abused persons was the enslaved man Jack, perhaps the first recorded escaped slave in Connecticut, fleeing in 1681. At his trial etting fire to a house in Northampton, evidently by accident, Jack testified that his owner Samuel Wolcott Sr, regularly beat him “sometimes with 100 blows so that he hath told his master that he would some time or other hang himself” (see Warren, Wendy. New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America, pp. 204–206). Jack was sentenced to death by hanging and then burned on a pyre. See description of account book of Samuel Wolcott, Sr.

In turn, the 29 Aug 1734 inventory of the estate of the son of Samuel Wolcott Sr, Samuel Wolcott, Jr. lists two slaves, one negro boy named Tony? valued at 90 pounds, and one negro woman name Lillie? , 6 pounds.

Probate inventory, 29 Aug 1734, of Samuel Wolcott, listing one negro boy named Tony?,90, and one negro woman name Lillie? , 6

Perhaps David Mitchell acquired Caesar Cambridge through his 1761 marriage to Mary Wolcott?

David Mitchell appears to have continued to reside in his hometown of Wethersfield until at least February 1776. On February 1, 1776, Mitchell buried an infant son in Wethersfield and on February 11, he buried his father there. In May 1776, he submitted a petition, “showing removal to South Hadley to keep tavern and asking liberty to transport rum, sugar & etc”  (Martha Smart, Wethersfield Historical Society: personal communication).

In March 1777, Mitchell was elected to a South Hadley committee, although he does not appear to have undertaken military service. (Sophie Eastman references him gathering crops in support of the Revolutionary cause, while his slave Caesar Cambridge served in the Navy and Army).

As noted above, Caesar Cambridge served in the Connecticut State Navy until June 15, 1777. On March 5, 1778, in South Hadley Caesar enlisted in the Continental Army. So it seems possible that after June 1777, Caesar was brought from Connecticut (or from Boston) to South Hadley, MA, and labored as an enslaved man for Mitchell until he enlisted in the army on March 5, 1778. The next day Caesar was emancipated, on condition that all his wages were transferred to Mitchell.

I am not sure how many enslaved people David Mitchell owned, or where Caesar and others were held. Sophia E. Eastman’s In Old South Hadley asserts the road past David Mitchell’s home was “designated for years as Slave Street,” p, 168. In Old South Hadley references Mitchell as residing at the “Old Hyde Place. ” This presumably the old home of Ira or Ara Hyde, married to Harriet Hyde, who is listed in the 1850 Federal census and the 1855 Massachusetts State Census. This may have been at what is now the intersection of Morgan and East Streets, about 1500 feet south-southeast of the Mount Holyoke Equestrian Center. Perhaps the current Morgan Street, running along the south border of the Mount Holyoke College campus, was the so called “Slave Street” in the late 1700s.

The former slaveowner David Mitchell appears in the 1790 census in South Hadley, Massachusetts, with one free person of color in his household (no sex or age is provided,) Perhaps this individual was Caesar Cambridge, or Caesar may have been residing elsewhere, or perhaps Caesar was no longer alive at this point. (From 1790 to 1840, only the head of household is listed by name in the US Federal Census; other household members are at times listed only by age and gender.)

David Mitchell died 9 June 1800 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, South Hadley, Massachusetts.

David Mitchell’s two daughters were:

  1. Mary Mitchell Bingham, 1762-1790 (buried in the Dartmouth College Cemetery) married Jabez Bingham.

Their children include:

Harriet Moseley
Mabel Bingham
David Mitchell Bingham
Fanny Chandler

  1. Mabel Mitchell White (1764-1840) married Deacon Josiah White. Their children include

Josiah White
Mary White
Sumner White
Harriet Bardwell
Samantha Eastman.

Possible Relatives of Caesar Cambridge

Several people of color with the surname Cambridge do appear in late 18th and early 19th century records in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and may be kin to Caesar:

–The 1800 census in South Hadley lists a Phillip Mitchell, in a household of three free people of color; he resides six households away from a “Negro Freedman,” whose household consists of six persons of color. Perhaps Phillip Mitchell was, like Caesar Cambridge, owned by David Mitchell.

It is intriguing that a decade later the 1810 census in South Hadley lists a Philip Cambridge, who also heads a household of three free people of color. Might it be that the Phillip Mitchell of the 1800 census changed his name from that of his former master “Mitchell” to “Cambridge”? Perhaps he was kin to Caesar Cambridge?

–The 1790 census lists a Stephen Cambridge, whose household contains two free persons of color in Sandisfield, Hampshire County, MA, about 40 miles southwest of South Hadley.

Peter Cambridge, died Longmeadow, Massachusetts (16 miles south of South Hadley) March 3, 1803. (Source: Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts) The 1800 census for Longmeadow does not list anyone with the surname Cambridge, but does record two households containing non-white persons: two reside with Nathaniel Ely, and one resides with John Cooms. One of these may have been Peter.

Shem Cambridge, colored, died in Granville, Hampden County, MA, about 30 miles southwest of South Hadley. (born est 1760, died 8 July 1819 or 1820) Buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Granville. Sources: 1. Find a Grave; 2. Vital Records of Granville Massachusetts to the Year 1850. . p, 186. [S135CAM in the Dataset of Documenting the Early History of Black LIves in the Connecticut River Valley.] The age of Shem might suggest he was a brother of Caesar Cambridge, but this is only speculative.

Marriage record. Shem Cambridge-Annis Moranday, New Marlborough, Berkshire County

On 4 May 1789, Shem Cambridge married Annis Moranday, in New Marlborough, Berkshire County, MA, about 20 miles east of Granville. They were married by Rev. Jacob Cullen, Minister of the Gospel.

1810 Census. South Hadley, MA. Phillip Cambridge. 3 free persons of color in household.

Perhaps related is a “Eunice Cambridge”, born around 1802 and buried in the South Burying Ground, Boston on 23 February 1832, evidently having been a resident of the Boston Poorhouse.

There seems to have been a cluster of free black Cambridges residing in New Haven, Litchfield, and Middletown, Connecticut, in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Nando Cambridge marries Ruth Roberts in New Haven, Connecticut on 1 Apr 1773. He would seem to be the same Nando Cambridge who died in Connecticut in 1790.

A second Nando Cambridge, presumably the son of the first Nando Cambridge, appears in the 1820 census in Milford, New Haven County, Connecticut, in a family of four free persons of color. He marries Clarissa Cambridge.and they have a daughter Martha Cambridge, born New Welford, CT. In 10 May 1854 in Lee, Massachusetts, Martha Cambridge, marries the farmer Levi Bird. Martha Cambridge Bird died on 8 July 1856 in Lee, MA. A daughter of Levi Bird and Martha (Cambridge) Bird was Elizabeth Bird, born in Lee, Massachusetts in 1804, died in Lee, MA, on 19 Jan 1856.

A Clarissa Cambridge , born 1796, is listed in the 1850 census residing in Sharon, Litchfield County, Connecticut, about 70 miles southwest of South Hadley, MA. She is perhaps the widow of the second Nando Cambridge. Living with her are her apparent children, in laws and/or grandchildren: Julia, 25; Eliza, 23, Mary, 21; Robert, 19; George, 6; Charlotte, 3; Henrietta, 1, and Hannah, 3 months. The 1860 census records Clarissa Cambridge as a servant, residing in the household of the mulatto David Hecter, in Sharon, Connecticut. The 1870 census records Clarissa still residing in Sharon, once again with Eliza and Robert.

Ruth Cambridge, perhaps the widow of the elder Nando Cambridge, is enumerated in the 1790 census in New Haven, in a household of two free persons of color. She appears to be the same Ruth Cambridge who married Stephen Foster on 27 February 1794 in New Haven, and may be the “Ruth Foster” in the New Haven 1800 census, residing alone as a woman of color.

Perhaps related is Ichabod Cambridge, who died in Middletown, Connecticut on 9 September 1853, age 72 so born around 1781. He is presumably the father of Ichabod L Cambridge, Jr. (b 1824 • Connecticut; d 28 APR 1901 • Connecticut) who spent his life in Hartford, CT. Ichabod Jr married Samantha Way in Hartford on 5 April 1854; his children include Walter I , Lilla M , Bertha Annis, Carrie Samantha Ebenezer, and Eva L Collaso; this line has numerous descendants.

In turn, John Cambridge, born around 1815, died 1 DEC 1858 in Connecticut. married to Eunice Brooks. The 1830 census, in Meriden, New Haven, CT, records him in a household consisting of four persons of color. He is buried in Middletown, CT. His widow, Eunice Cambridge is recorded in the 1860 census as residing in Middletown, with her daughter Jeanette, married to James Brooks, seaman. James appears in the 1870 census, in Middletown, residing alone.

The 1860 census in Wethersfield, where Caesar Cambridge was likely enslaved, lists a Henry Cambridge, born around 1834, as an inmate in the State Prison. He was evidently convicted in 1857 of burglary and his occupation is listed as a boot and shoe maker.

Other Enslaved people and Slaveowners in South Hadley

From the 1754 Massachusetts slave census the records of 2,720 slaver have been preserved, although the actual number of enslaved people appears to have been considerably higher. The 1754 census records that 13 enslaved males and 5 enslaved females were held in Hadley, MA. No enslaved people were recorded in South Hadley that year. By the time of Stamp Act, it appears that about 7,000 persons were enslaved in Massachusetts. Key legal cases from 1781-83 effectively ended enslavement in Massachusetts.

The book Forgotten Patriots; African American and Native American Patriots in the Revolutionary War (edited by Eric G Grundset) records two individuals of color in South Hadely, a John Way, mulatto, and a Toby White, as both serving in the Revolutionary War. I am unsure if they were free or enslaved during this time period.

The Revolutionary War rolls records that a John Way enlisted on 17 February 1776 in the Foot company of Captain Israel Chapman (1758-1793), in the Regiment commanded by Colonel Elisha Porter (1742-1796). Colonel Porter, from the Porter family of Hadley, MA, served during the war in the Fourth Hampshire Regiment, and participated in the important Saratoga Campaign. He was the Sheriff of Hampshire County during and after the Revolutionary War.

A subsequent reference states that John Way deserted the regiment June 10, 1776. Age 30 years. Five feet, nine inches.

Perhaps related to John Way, Ralph Way enlisted on February 15, 1776 as Private. Professor Marla Miller (UMass Amherst) explains, “Ralph Way was indentured to Samuel Porter (not enslaved) but when Porter died in 1722 his children waived the three years left on Way’s contract.” She further notes, ” Ralph Way was married to Lois Way.  They had at least one son, Ralph Jr, whose first marriage was in 1765 (Phillis Smith).  He served in the military in 1777, 1778, and 1779.” Perhaps John Wray was also a son of Ralph Sr and Lois Way. The 1790 census for Hadley, Massachusetts records a Ralph Way, heading a household consisting of nine non-white persons

The 1790 census for South Hadley records eleven all-white households headed by persons with the surname White, who might perhaps be related to the slaveowner of Toby White. It may be relevant that Mabel Mitchell (1764-1840), daughter of David Mitchell (the owner of Caesar Cambridge) in 1787 married Deacon Josiah White of South Hadley.

Robert Drinkwater’s In Memory of Susan Freedom: Searching for Gravestones of African Americans in Western Massachusetts (p. 63) records a headstone for William MaGee, said to born enslaved and buried in South Hadley. Died March 2, 1851, aged 101 (which would suggest born around 1760). Headstone said to have been moved “from present site of Gaylord library to the rear of Evergreen Cemetery. ” (fn 119, p, 133). The 1860 census list William MacGee as 99 years old, a servant in the household of white farmer Ayro Burnett in South Hadley. The 1850 census shows him residing in the household of Alpheus Ingram, in South Hadley; his age is difficult to discern, but may be 81, which would imply a birth year of around 1769. He is not evident in earlier censuses, which only listed heads of household. I am not sure if he was enslaved in South Hadley or elsewhere.

In addition to David Mitchell, other slaveowners in South Hadley included Deacon David Nash (1719-1803), “who had slaves enough to till his fields when he was absent”; Deacon William Eastman, and Squire Benjamine Eastman. ( Sophia Eastman, Old South Hadley, p. 158), Sophia Eastman (p,168) reports a story about two brothers, evidently Eastmans; one of whom was so violent against his enslaved man, that the other brother sheltered the slave, until the first brother swore upon the Bible to desist from violent assaults on him.

David Nash married Jemima Boltwood (1720–1754), daughter of Samuel Boltwood and Hannah Alexander, on 28 September 1742. He married his second wife Elizabeth Smith (1729-1765) on 9 May 1754. The 1790 census indicates that David Nash no longer owned slaves, but, like David Mitchell, had one free person of color residing in his household.

Free Persons of Color in South Hadley: 1790-1810

The 1790 census lists the following ten free persons of color residing in South Hadley, compared to a population of 749 white people.

  1. Cuffe Freeman, a free man of color, with three persons of color in his household. He seems to be the same Cuff Freeman listed as serving in the Revolutionary War, 2nd Massachusetts, according to a record dated 14 October 1783. I am not sure if he is the same Cuff Freeman as appears in many Revolutionary War muster rolls in Connecticut from 1777-1780. (The name Cuff or Cuffe, derived from the Akan name “Kofi,” is rather frequent among enslaved men during the period.)

2; Joel Peto or Pito or Pits (?), a free man of color, with two persons of color in his household. He may be the same Joel Pito or Joel Pits who married Hannah Show in Conway, Franklin County , Massachusetts or Deerfield (about 25 miles north of South Hadley) on 27 Nov 1788. “Joel” may be same person as the escaped slave Joseph Pito, “Mulatto Fellow, six feet high, 20th year of his age, runaway”, advertised for by the enslaver William Allis, on page 4 of the Hampshire Herald on 19 June 1785, having escaped from Hatfield MA, about 10 miles north of South Hadley.

Escape notice for Joseph Pito, escaped from Hatfield slaveowner William Allis, June 19, 1785. Hampshire Herald, p 4.

3. Casar Hayes, a free man of color, with three persons of color in his household. Perhaps a former slave of Rev. Joel Hayes of South Hadley, 1753-1827, or of his father Joel Hayes, Sr, 1728-1800, of Granby, Hartford, Connecticut (who had served as a Lieutenant in the American Revolution).

4. One person of color (name unknown) in the household of David Mitchell (the former slaveowner of Caesar Cambridge)

5; One person of color (name unknown) in the household of David Nash, a former slaveowner.

The 1800 Census records nine free persons of color in South Hadley:

  1. Negro Freedman, a free man of color, perhaps the same person as Cuffe Freedman in the 1790 census, with six free persons of color in his household

2. Phillip Mitchell, a free man of color, with three free persons of color in his household

The 1810 census lists only three persons of color in South Hadley, all residing in the household of Phillip Cambridge, a free man of color. (As noted, I speculate that Phillip Mitchell and Phillip Cambridge may have been the same person).

Memorializing through a Witness Stone?

Perhaps we might explore commemorating Caesar Cambridge’s life, in slavery and freedom, though a stone marker in the Witness Stone project, a Connecticut and New England initiative modeled on the Stolpersteine (Stumbling Stone) project in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe.


Sophia Eastman, In Old South Hadley (Chicago, 1912).

Sylvester Judd, History of Hadley, South Hadley, Amherst and Granby, Massachusetts (Picton Press, 1905, reissued 1993).

Jackson Kuhl Samuel Smedley and Prize Division, Journal of the American Revolution. August 22, 2013)

Alice M. Walker, Historic Hadley: A Story of the Making of a Famous Massachusetts Town (New York, 1906).

Historic Northampton Slavery Research Project

Documenting the Early History of Black LIves in the Connecticut River Valley

Acknowledgements: For historical guidance, we are grateful to Martha Smart (Wethersfield Historical Society, Connecticut); Sara Monalea McMahon (Hampshire Law Library), Leo Labonte (independent historian, South Hadley); Cliff McCarthy (Archivist, Springfield Museums), Zoe Cheek (Librarian, Springfield Museums), Marla Miller (Department of History, UMass Amherst), and staff at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Massachusetts State Archive, and the Hampshire Room of the Northampton Public Library. Thanks as well to Jean Akin.

Tracing an Anishinaabe Buffalo Robe in the Skinner Museum Collection

A striking indigenous Anishinaabe robe made of buffalo hide (Accession # MH SK K.116) in the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College has an intriguing caption:

Buffalo Hide Robe, Anashinaabe. Gift of Mrs. Henry H. Bennett. Skinner Museum, Mount Holyooke College

“Buffalo Robe. Presented by Mrs. Henry H. Bennett. Mrs. Bennett received the robe from an uncle, who in turn received it from an Indian in about 1877. The inscriptions seem to have been personal inscriptions, and the robe seems to have come from one of the Ojibway Tribes of Plains Indians, near the Canadian border.”

Possible RItual Symbolism

Detail of robeL three figures. Center, lower third

The robe has a number of pictographs painted on it. About a third of the way up the center are three yellow painted figures, perhaps human or human-animal hybrids. To the left, in left profile, is a birdlike figure with red stripes, perhaps feathers arising from its head and neck, which appears to be running to the left; to its right is a human figure (perhaps male) facing us directly, with arms upraised and legs akimbo (perhaps dancing) and also with red stripes, perhaps feathers, emanating from the head; and to its right is another figure, also with arms raised, perhaps running towards the left.

In a 1916 short essay, “Some Ojibway Robes,” (The Museum Journal, VII. 2) Bruce W. Merwin proposes that eight similar robes in the George Heye collection, now in the National Museum of the American Indian, were created for use by shamanic or prophetic figures among the “Ojibwe or Chippewa” peoples. Slits in the hide, sewed up, and painted on the hair side, may signal botanical specimens of healing significance to the ritual specialists. Various pictographs may evoke guide animals or tutelary divinities, perhaps encountered in transformative dreams. It is possible, given the enormous EuroAmerican interest in collecting decorated Native American buffalo hides, that this object was created for the market.

Likely Provenance

“Mrs. Henry H. Bennett,” who donated the object to the Skinner collection, must have been Emma (Marshall) Bennett, (1871-1939), who resided as a widow in Holyoke, Massachusetts during the period that the Skinner Museum was open and acquiring new objects from 1932 onwards. Her late husband Henry H. Bennett (1865-1932) had been a carpenter in South Hadley. Emma was a daughter of the English-born William Marshall (1832-1899) and the irish-born Margaret Nangle Marshall (1844-1880).

Who then was the “uncle” of Emma Marshall Bennett, who presented her with the buffalo hide robe that he had acquired in 1877? Her father William Marshall (born Sheffield, England, 1832) was survived by at two sisters in the United States, when he died in September 1889, so it is possible their one of their husbands was the “uncle”in question Also, it aEmma’s mother Margaret Nangle had four brothers, all but three of whom were dead by 1872, as well as three sisters, all of whom married.

Candidates for the “uncle” who acquired the robe would thus include:

1. Emma’s mother’s brother, Thomas Nangle (1834-1904). He was born in Ireland and arrived in New York on 24 March 1856. He subsequently appears to have worked as a laborer and gardener in the environs of Hartford, Connecticut.

2. Michael B Morrison (1853-1924) the husband of Catherine Nangle, Margaret Nangle’s sister. Michael Morrison in the 1870 census is recorded has been working in an ore bed in Dutchess County, NY.

3. John H Morrison (1854-1920), who married Delia Nangle, also a sister of Margaret Nangle. The 1870 census also records him working in an ore bed in Dutchess County. (The two Morrisons were brothers, sons of Edwin and Jane Morrison.)

4. .John Havilah Nichols, 1830-1876, who married Margaret’s sister Maria Louise Nangle He died in Owego, NY (a year before the reported acquisition of the robe from the Native American individual).

5. William Marshall’s sister Hannah Marshall of Northfield, CT may have first married a Joseph Senior

6. Hannah Marshall Senior evidently then later married Allen Terrell Blakesley, of Northfield CT.

7. Another sister of William Marshall, Sarah A Marshall of Bridgeport, Connecticut married a Mr. Ward

Incidentally, a son of Emma Marshall and Henry H Bennett was Herbert William Bennett, 1892-1968, who lived much of his life in South Hadley, working as a florist.

Additional clues, David Penney (NMAI) notes, may lie in the identities of persons who sold similar buffalo hide robes to the Hehe Foundation in the early 20th century., before the objects came into the collection of the NMAI. Six donors or sellers are named in the catalogue cards, as follows:

Catalog Number: 016867.000. “Purchased in 1904 from taxidermist in Brooklyn, NY”;

Catalog Number: 016868.000. “purchased in 1908 from T.W. Preston in Boston, MA (Fig. 112);

Catalog Number: 018717.000. “purchased in 1908 from T.W. Preston in Boston, MA (Fig. 114)

Catalog Number: 016870.000: “purchased in 1908 from L.A. Brown in New York City, who states her husband obtained same in 1870 “(Figs. 113 & 118);

Catalog Number: 029505.000. “From L. Milton Wilson, whose family has had it since about 1810″ (Fig. 116)

Catalog Number: 161734.000, Sold by Dan Mather; A.D. Mather Collection

Catalog Number: 181088.000. Presented by Gertrude Guilford.

Catalog Number: 210115.000. Seller; Charles M Heffner.

Catalog Number: 215165.000. Presented by Robert E. Dietz

Were these various robes, now in the collections of the NMAI and the Skinner Museum (Mount Holyoke College) perhaps produced and marketed by the same person or workshop for sale in the 19th century? It is intriguing that the husband of L.A. Brown obtain two of the robes (Catalog Number: 016870.000) in 1870, seven years before the year of acquisition listed in the Skinner Museum label.

Buffalo robe, bottom left .

top of Robe

Bottom of robe,right

Resources/Related Objects

B.W.M> (Bruce W Merwin). “Some Ojibway Buffalo Robes.” The Museum Journal VII, no. 2 (June, 1916): 93-96. Accessed February 05, 2023.

National Museum of the American Indian.

George Benedict Zukerman (1927-2023)

Paul Resika. Sketch of George (Dick) Zukerman, 2018

George Benedict (“Dick” or “Dickie”) Zukerman, was born February 22, 1927, in London, England. He died February 1, 2023, in British Columbia, three weeks shy of his 96th birthday.  He and his longtime partner, violinist Erika Bennedik made their home in White Rock, South Surrey, British Columbia. Erika was with George at the very end, as he slipped peacefully away into the great beyond.

George (affectionately known as “Dick” or “Dickie” to his many relatives on the Zeltzer side), and his older brother the musicologist Joseph Kerman (born Zukerman), were the children of Frieda Zeltzer and the great progressive journalist William Zukerman, growing up in Golders Green, London. His middle name Benedict honored the great philosopher Benedict Baruch Spinoza, greatly admired by his father (although as a child I was convinced that the Londoner “Dick” was really named for Dick Whittington, legendary Lord Mayor of London).

Six weeks after the outbreak of World War II, Frieda and the boys arrived from England in New York on 19 October 1939 on the SS Washington (painted with a large US flag, Dick recalled, to discourage attacks by German U-boats). Their father William, covering the war in England, arrived in New York on 13 July 1940. The family settled in together at 260 Convent Avenue, close by other Zeltzer-descended cousins.

Georgie and oder brother Joseph, with mother Frieda

In October 1939, Dr. Jacob (Bi) Auslander and Dick’s first cousin Paul Resika (son of Sonya Zeltzer, Frieda’s sister) were famously on hand to greet Frieda and the boys on the pier. It remains a matter still debated by historians as to whether Paul or Dicki was the one to introduce the other to the delights and vice of poker dice— but the young people were off and running, and the newly introduced cousins —Joseph Zukerman (later Kerman), Dick, Joe AuslanderJudy Auslander Saks, and Paul Resika were deep, life long friends across many decades, joined by Pearl “Cookie” Canick, Joanie Shapiro Uchitelle, Alice Shapiro Swersey, and Vicky Margulies, among many others.  The cousins spent many memorable summers together in Shrub Oak Park, in northern Westchester County. Many young family members participated in a performance of Stephen Vincent Benet’s anti-fascist play, They Burned the Books, in which Dick played the role of the narrator.

Joe and Dick Zukerman

Dick was introduced to the bassoon at Music and Art High School and in time became a globally recognized master of the instrument, touring widely and serving as a worldwide ambassador of classical music and the arts. (I have known many South African and Malawians who recall his electrifying musical performances and presentations on musical history.) Through his musical travels to the Soviet Union and Israel, he served as a living bridge connecting far flung cousins, even in the depths of the Cold War.

George Zukerman, c 1945?
George with his mother’s sister Pauline Zeltzer Klein in Moscow, USSR

Dick received many recognitions, including being made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and an awardee of the Order of British Columbia. An impresario, he organized many significant concerts and musical events, and led extraordinary musical tours on board boat through European rivers, in which many family members participated. He was deeply devoted to the peoples of northern Canada, and brought many significant musical events into isolated northern communities.

His niece Lucy Kerman writes,

“Among Dick’s many accomplishments, one of my favorites was his invention of the subscription concert series.  He went to small and mid-size towns throughout Canada helping to organize live classical music concert series: towns would pay ahead of time — subscribe — for a series of concerts, and Dick would organize and deliver them.  He’d find musicians and put together programs with soloists, duets, quartets, and the towns would have their concerts.  The magic of live performance was key for him, and he had what sounded like extraordinary and often hilarious adventures as he fulfilled the subscriptions (like, towns where the only piano was not in the school auditorium where the concert was scheduled, but down a dusty street and in the backroom of a bar, from which it had to be transported … somehow).  But the innovation was that the residents would pay ahead of time and he would provide whatever scale series they could afford.  No risk, no loss.  It was a beautiful idea.”

One of his favorite activities, he often recalled, was helping swear in new Canadian citizens, many of them former refugees and asylum seekers. A proud Canadian, he was also a true citizen of the world.

There is a lovely video, created by Sherri Goldstein (a cousin on the Zukerman side) on how George and Erika met.

Brother Joseph Kerman (left) and George Zukerman

Dickie was a hilarious, gifted raconteur. For many of us, his rich, deep, cultured Anglo-Atlantic voice evoked, like that of his brother Joseph Kerman, a long-lost era of civility and cosmopolitanism. He was a living archives of extended Zeltzer-Weinstein and Zukerman family histories, and a spellbinding eyewitness to many significant events in 20th century musical and cultural history. He remained curious, intellectually active, and funny up until the end.   We all hope that his memoirs are published in the near future.

George Zukerman and Erika Bennedil

George is survived by Erika Bennedik, his partner of 40 years, his niece Lucy Kerman and nephew Peter Kerman, grand- and great grand- nieces and nephews, and a worldwide circle of cousins on the Zeltzer and Zukerman sides, all of whom cherish his memory.

He will be honored by a memorial concert in Spring 2023.

-Mark Auslander (1st cousin once removed)

On line Resources

George Zukerman’s professional website, Bassoon as you are ready”:

Marvelous 2020 interview with George (Dick) Zukerman by Julia Lockhart, principal bassoonist, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra:

See tribute to George Zukerman by Leila Getz:

2019 Profile, by John Thomson:

Page of Condolences, at:

For more information on Zeltzer family history please see the first half of

Musical Recordings

On line musical recordings of Dick playing the bassoon, include:

1. Mozart’s  Bassoon Concerto in B-Flat Major, K. 191  (bassoon enters at 01:11)

2. Weber’s Bassoon Concerto in F Major (the bassoon comes in at around 01:30)

3l Carl Stamitz’s Bassoon Concerto in F: I. Allegro Maestoso  (bassoon comes in at 1:20) 

  1. Johann Christian Bach – Bassoon Concerto in E-flat major, W C82  (bassoon enters at 1:07)

Full discography at

Other Memories by Family and Friends

Dickie’s first cousin, Vicky Margulies writes, “[my mother] Runya simply adored her Zukerman nephews and admittedly had a sweet spot for Dick who was only about 4 years old when she met him in London (c. 1931).  She regaled me with stories of how he constantly teased her correcting her accent, which was obviously Americanized and not spoken in what her little British nephew thought to be proper English.   I worked in the classical music business over many years, and fortunately I’d come across Canadian colleagues from time to time, who knew, admired and always spoke lovingly of bassoonist and impresario George Zukerman.  I’m sad and sorry that cousin Dickie is no longer with us and may Erika find some comfort in their many friendships and the music world’s warm embrace. “

2011 Zeltzer Cousin Reunion (Shadowbrook Farm)

In 2011, the Zeltzer cousins (Dick’s relatives on the side of his mother Frieda) gathered at Shadowbrook Farm (the home of Alice and Burt Swersey), in Steventown NY for a reunion. Bill Swersey photo-documented the gathering;

Cousins at Shadowbrook Farm, Steventown. From left; Paul Resika, George Zukerman, Alice Swersey, Petter Kerman, Vicky Margulies, David Margulies, L0is Smith
Zeltzer cousins at Shadowbrook Far. Standing from left: Pearl Cookie Canick Solomon, Judy Auslander Saks, Paul reiiak, Joan Shapiro Uchiteel,Geoge Dick Zukerman, Vicki Margulies, Alice Shapiro Swersey. Seated; David Margulies Z

Joan Shapiro Uchitelle, Paul Resika, George (Dick) Zukerman at Shadowbrook Farm
Zeltzer family gathering at Shadowbook Farm: From right: Lou Uchitelle, George (Dick) Zukerman, Lois Smith, Peter Kerman, Burt Swersey, Alice Shapiro Swersey, Joan Shapiro Uchitelle, Erika Bennedik

George (Dick) Zukerman

Dick and his first cousin Paul Resika were lifelong friends, from the time of their meeting in October 1939, on the New York pier where Dick, Joseph and his mother Frieda arrived:

Paul Resika, Blair Phillips Resika, George Zukerman

First cousins Paul Resika and Dick Zukerman on one of Dicks’ musical tours in Germany, with Johann Sebastian. Zalman Usiskin explains this is ” in front of the Thomaskirche, the church of St. Thomas in Leipzig where Bach worked from 1723 until his death in 1750. ”
George Zukerman, niece Lucy Kerman, and grand niece Julia Tomlinson Czesnik

Niece Lucy Kerman with George
80th birthday tribute: George Zukerman, Lucy Kerman, Peter Kerman, Erika Bennedick, Danny
George (Dick) Zukerman

Seeking the Enslaved Background of the Hopkins Family of Posey County, Indiana

In our continuing efforts to trace the family histories of the victims of the October 1878 racial terror lynching in Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana, what can be determined about the antebellum background of the family of Jeff Hopkins (who was one of the four men hanged in front of the County Courthouse on October 11)? In a previous post, I try to trace the children of Jeff and his wife Pheba Hopkins, who all appear to have relocated to Chicago by 1880. (I have not been able to locate any records of Pheba herself, after the 1870 census entry.)

Let us begin with information listed in the 1870 census in Black Township. Posey County, Indiana, about the Hopkins family.

Jeff Hopkins, b. 1842, Kentucky (farmer)

Pheba Hopkins, b. 1841, Kentucky

Florida Hopkins, p. 1853, Kentucky

Fredric Hopkins, b, 1860, Kentucky

Gabrella Hopkins, 1864-1929, b. Kentucky

Abe Hopkins, b. 1867, Kentucky

Ulysses S Grant Hopkins, b. 1869 Indiana

Family of Jeff Hopkins, 1870 census, Black township, Posey County, Indiana

Evidently, Jeff and Pheba like their children Florida, Fredric and Gabrella were all born in slavery, while Abe and US Grant were born in freedom. Since Abe was born in Kentucky in 1867 and US Grant Hopkins was born in Indiana in 1869, it follows that the family relocated from Kentucky at some point between 1867 and 1869.

Where might Jeff and Pheba Hopkins and their children have been enslaved in Kentucky? It is possible though not a certainty, that Jeff and his family were owned by a slaveowner with the surname of Hopkins, so let us look at Hopkins slaveowners who might have owned Jeff, born around 1842.

In nearly all cases, the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules do not list the names of enslaved persons. However the search functions on make it possible to limit results based on gender and age.

The 1850 slaves schedule lists about ten Kentucky slaveowners named Hopkins who owned at least one male slave between the ages of six and ten:

James Speed Hopkins (1799-1873) in District 2, Boyle County Kentucky, about 200 miles east of Mount Vernon, Indiana, owned a total of 34 slaves, including four eight-year old males and 2 ten-year old males. His father, John Hopkins, died in Boyle County in 1824. By 1860, James Speed Hopkins had settled in Heaths Creek, Pettis County, Missouri, with 35 slaves, including adolescent male slaves that are consistent with those listed in the 1850 slave schedule, so he can probably be eliminated as the source of Jeff and his family.

  1. Samuel Hopkins, in District 2, Christian, Kentucky (about about 120 miles south of Mount Vernon, Indiana) ) owned a total of 20 slaves, including two ten-year old males, two eight year old males, and one six-year old male.
  2. Thomas Hopkins, in District 2, Owen County, Kentucky (about 200 miles east of Mount Vernon, Indiana) owned three slaves, including one eight year old male.
  3. John N. Hopkins, of District 2, Christian County, Kentucky (about 120 miles south of Mount Vernon, Indiana) , owned six slaves, including one seven year old male.
  4. Lucy A Hopkins, of District 1, Graves County, Kentucky (about 150 miles southwest of Mount Vernon Indiana), owns eleven slaves, including two seven year old males.
  5. Joslin J Hopkins (1795-1865), of District 1, Nicholas County, Kentucky (about 280 miles east of Mount Vernon, Indiana) owns eight people, including one nine year male and one seven year old male.
  6. E Hopkins, of District 1, Shelby, Kentucky (about 200 miles east of Mount Vernon, Indiana) owns two slaves, including one nine year old male.
  7. Joseph Haiden Hopkins, son of Samuel Hopkins, of District 2, Christian, Kentucky (about 120 miles south of Mount Vernon, Indiana) owns 15 slaves, including two 6 year old males (one of them mulatto) and one 8 year old male.
  8. B Hopkins of Scott County, Kentucky (about 240 miles east of Mount Vernon, Indiana) owns one ten year old male
  9. Vol Hopkins of District 3, Hardin County, Kentucky, owns one six year old male mulatto and one ten year old male mulatto (all are fugitive at the time of the census, so can presumably be excluded from consideration)

In turn, the 1860 slave schedule lists seven Kentucky slaveowners named Hopkins. who own about ten enslaved males between ages 16 and 20 years:

Mary B Hopkins, who owns 31 people (residing in three slave dwellings) in Division 1, Henderson County, about 15 miles southwest of Mount Vernon, Indiana. Her slaves in 1860 include:

18 year old male, who could be Jeff
18 year old female, who could be Pheba
5 year old female, who could be Florida

The identity of this slaveowner is not entirely clear. She seem to be Mary Ann Hamilton Hopkins, married to Edmund Henry Hopkins, who in the 1860 census lists her real estate value as $7,000 (and her personal estate as only $200.) Mary Ann Hamilton Hopkins’s mother Mary Hamilton died in 1861??, and in her will bequeaths one slave Charles to her daughter for the duration of her life, and expresses hope that afterwards he be made a freedman.

Mary Hamilton Hopkins died in 1861. He husband Edmund Henry Hopkins died in 1863.

Curiously, Mary’s appraised estate, on 21 December 1861, only lists one slave, an enslaved man, Harry. valued at $800. The other slaves in her possession were perhaps held on account of one or more heirs to an estate, and do not appear, so far as I can tell, in probate records.

2, An apparently different Mary B Hopkins in Henderson County KY appears to own three slaves in 1860. She may be the daughter of Mary Hamilton Hopkins. This Mary Hopkins, born 1844, in Division 1, Henderson County, seems to have died in 1862.

  1. G S Hopkins, who owns 8 people in Division 1, Logan County, Kentucky, including

18 year old male, who could be Jeff
20 year old woman, who could be Pheba
(but no female in the 7 year range)

  1. William Boyd Hopkins (1819-1885), son of Joslin J Hopkins (mentioned above, re the 1850 slave schedule) owns 8 people in District 1, Nicholas County, Kentucky, including an 18 year old man, but no females in the age range of Phebe or Florida
  2. William P Hopkins, who owns 2 people in Christian County, Kentucky, specifically a 16 year old male and a 17 year old male, but no females in the age range of Phebe or Florida
  3. Joseph Haiden Hopkins, who owns 27 people in Christian County, Kentucky, about 100 miles due south of Mount Vernon, Indian. Potential matches include:

17 year old male who might be Jeff
18 year old female who might be Phebe
5 year old female who might be Florida
6 month old male who might be Fredric

As noted above, Joseph Haiden Hopkins’ father Samuel Hopkins, who died in 1859, had, in 1850, 20 slaves in Christian County, KY, including an 8 year old male, who could have been Jeff, and an eleven year old female, who could have been Phebe.

The inventory of Samuel Hopkins estate, Christian County Kentucky Probate Records, Will Records, Vol R, p, 152 ff, names about twelve slaves, listed minors as ‘children,’ None of these names correspond with Jeff, Pheba, or Florida, but since they might be kin to Jeff’s family, their names and ages are worth noting:

Christian County KY probate records, vol F p. 156.
Inventory and appraisement of the negroes belonging to the estate of said decedent (Samuel Hopkins)

Silla, about 21 years and 3 children
Killa, 17 years old
Henry, 20
William, 16
Isaac, 28
Daniel, 24
Samuel, 19
Frank, 21
Smith, 43
Wesley, 20
James, 18
Phillis and child, 22

In his will (10 August 1859; Christian County Kentucky Probate Records, WIll Records, Vol R, p. 74.) Samuel Hopkins bequeaths to his grandson Samuel Herndon in Missouri, the slaves Phillis age 20 and infant 18 months old named Willis and a boy seventeen years old Wesley. Phillis and Wesley are married. Also three old negroes Judith (blind), and Isaac and Nancy, who should select which home they will go to. Rest of property to divided up between his children.


  1. Mary Hopkins, who owns 5 people in Union County, Kentucky, who appear to be part of the same nuclear family:

20 year old male who might be Jeff
22 year old female who might be Phebe, although on the older sisde
3 month old male who might be Fredric
But no female child in the age range for Florida

The widowed Mary Hopkins had been married to Thomas Hopkins, who died 15 July 1858 in Union County, In the 1850 slave schedule Thomas Hopkins in District 2, Union County, KY, owned three slaves:

Female, age 50
Female, 16
Male, 13

Union County Probate Records, Vol E, p 321, from 1858, indicate the following appraisment of Thomas Hopkins’ five slaves:

Negro Woman, Ambigail l(?) valued at $1000
Negro boy Issac 800
Small boy Will, 200
Small Girl Nancy 150
Old woman Hannah (unintelligle) value at 00

Concluding Observations: Of these seven slaveowners, the most likely candidate would seem to be the large slaveowner Mary B Hopkins in Henderson County, KY,, who in 1860 owns three people who more or less match up with Jeff, Pheba and Florida, and who resided relatively near Posey Couny, Indiana.

The next most likely would seem to be Joseph Haiden Hopkins, son of Samuel Hopkins, whose slaves may match up with Jeff, Phebe, Florida and Fredric. His plantation, as noted, was within 100 miles of Posey County, Indiana.

However, as of this writing, I have not come across any probate records of other documents listing the names of the enslaved persons Jeff or Pheba or their children Florida, Fredric, or Gabrella.

I would be grateful for any guidance or suggestions as we continue to seek the early history of Jeff and Pheba Hopkins.

Enslavement and the Antebellum History of the Good Family of Jennings County, Indiana

As we continue to try to reconstruct the family histories of the seven men brutally lynched in October 1878 by white vigilantes in Mount Vernon, Posey Couny, Indiana, I have been curious about the family background of James (Jim) Good. As previously noted in my overall discussion of the descendant lines, James Good in Posey County, Indiana married Emily Hensley in January 1875. Two years after the lynching, the widowed Emily married Civil War veteran Frank Odem in 1880; the couple remained in Posey County for the rest of their lives.

I think it most likely that the murdered “Jim Good” appears in the 1870 census in Center, Jennings County, Indiana (about 175 miles northwest of Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana) as “James L. Good”, born 1857. He is the apparent son of Merrit Good Sr (b. 1815, Kentucky) and Georgiantha Good, (b. 1822, Kentucky). His siblings include:

Warren Good, 1845-1916. b, Kentucky
Randle Bowen, b 1850, Kentucky
Elizabeth (Betty) Bowen, b 1851, Kentucky

Georgiantha Bowen (b. 1853. Kentucky)
Archibald Archy T Goude, (1859-1936, b Kentucky)
William Goude, (who may be the same person as George W Goode) b. 1862, Kentucky
Merrit Good, Jr. b. 1864, Kentucky
Hulbert Good, b. 1865, Kentucky

Merrit Good family, 1870 census, Center, Jennings County, Indiana, p 1
Merrit Good family, 1870 census, Center, Jennings County, Indiana, p 2

Since there were no free persons of color with any of the names in Merrit’s famiy in antebellum Kentucky, we may safely infer that this family was enslaved prior to Emancipation. Given that all the children, including Hulbert (b. 1865) were born in Kentucky, we may also infer that the Good family emigrated from Kentucky after Emancipation, at some point between 1865 and 1870, settling in Jennings County, Indiana, across the Ohio River. (The 1870 census records about 220 people of color residing in Jennings County, of whom 150 were born in Kentucky.)

Given that the younger Georgiantha Bowen shares the name of the elder Georgiantha Good, we may speculate that the three Bowens are the children of the older Georgiantha, and that they were fathered by someone other than Merrit Good Sr (who is listed as their father in the 1880 census). As noted below, there is some circumstantial evidence that Georgiantha and/or her children had at one point been enslaved by a slaveowner named Bowen. Perhaps Merrit Sr adopted Georgiantha’s children after the couple married.

Possible Goode Slaveowners

First, let us consider where Merrit Good Sr and his children were enslaved. An intriguing hint is found in the marriage record for James’s brother Archibald Good, born 1859, who on 12 July 1899 in Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana, married Ada Lucinda Lyle (who had previously married, it would appear, a man with the surname Easton). In this record, Archibald lists as his birthplace “Campbellsburg” in Henry County, Kentucky, about 50 miles southeast of North Vernon, Jennings County, Indiana, across the Ohio River.

The 1850 slave schedule lists only two slaveowners with the surname Good or Goode residing in Henry County, Kentucky: Samuel or Lemuel Goode (1793-1870) and his brother Richard Young Goode (b. 1795, North Carolina, d. 1873, Sheppardville, Bullit County, Kentucky), who both reside in District 1, Henry County. Lemuel owns 12 slaves and Richard owns 13 slaves. (Matters are a little confusing since Lemuel Good and Richard Young Goode eacg have sons named Richard, born respectively in 1822 and 1824). Richard Young Goode was a veteran of the War of 1812.

Three are several potential matches between the black family of Merrit and Georgiana Good and the slaves owned by the brothers Lemuel and Richard Young Goode, as indicated in the 1850 slave schedules (which records age, sex, and color, but no names). For example,

The 33 year old male slave of Lemuel Good, born 1817, could be Merrit Sr
The 23 year old female of Lemuel could be Georgiantha
The 4 year old male of Lemuel could be Warren

Alternately, the 31 year old male slave of Richard Young Goode could be Merrit Sr
The 4 year old male slave of Richard Young Goode, could be Warren
The 6 month old male, owned by Richard Young Goode, could be Randle Bowen

Richard Good slave schedule, p. 2, 1850, Henry County, KY
Richard Good slave schedule, p. 2, 1850, Henry County, KY

Ten years later, the 1860 slave schedule indicates that Lemuel Good now resides in McCuistians District, Ballard County, Kentucky (about 275 miles southwest of Campbellsburg, KY) owning four persons:

Male, age 40
Female, age 16
Female, age 12
Female, age 30

Perhaps the 40 year old male, born around 1820, could be Merritt Good, Sr., and perhaps the 30 year old female, born about 1830, could be Georgiantha Good.

The 1860 slave schedule indicates that Lemuel’s brother RIchard Young Goode now resides in District 2, Bullit County, Kentucky, about 60 miles southwest of Campbellsburg, Kentucky, where he owns 16 slaves. Adjacent to Richard Young Goode, “E Good” (presumably Edward Good, the son of Richard Young Good) owns one slave (a 17 year old female) and Richard Good, presumably the son of Richard Young Goode, own one slave (a 30 year old male)

There may be several matches among the slaves owned by Richard Young Goode in 1860:

— a 37 year old male who might be Merrit Good, Sr.
—a 10 year old male who might be Randle Bowen
—a 9 year old female who might be Elizabeth Bowen
—a one year old male, who might be Archibald Good.

Richard Young Goode, Slave schedule, p. 1, 1860, Bullit Co, KY
Richard Young Goode, Slave schedule, p. 2, 1860, Bullit Co, KY

It is quite possible that the children had been separated at some point from one or both of their parents.

Possible Bowen Slavowners

Let us now consider the possible “Bowen” connection. It seems quite possible that the wife of Merrit Good Sr, Georgiantha, born around 1822, earlier held the surname Bowen, shared by three of her children (Randle, Elizabeth and Georgiantha), or was owned by a Kentucky slaveowner named Bowen, or that the father of these children was owned by a Bowen slaveowner and used the Bowen surname. The 1850 slave census lists eleven slaveowners named Bowen or Bowens in Kentucky; one of these, Burket Johnston Bowen (1812-1896) , resides in District 1, Henry County, the same DIstrict as both Goode brothers, and lives about 90 households away from Lemuel Goode. In 1850, Burket Johnston Bowen owns six slaves: male, age 24, female age 11, male age 26, male age 16, female age 20, male age 3. There is not a clear match with Georgianatha and her children, but perhaps there is some connection between these enslaved people and her family.

1850 slave schedule for Burket Juhnston Bowen, Henry County, KY

In 1860, Burdett Johnston Bowen is residing in Oregon, Holt County, Missouri, as a wealthy merchant. He does not appear to own any slaves, so perhaps he sold his enslaved property before leaving Kentucky. Speculatively, perhaps one or more of these slaves was acquired by the Goodes, leading to the integration of Good and Bowen families.

Enslaved Persons in Goode family Probate Records

Goode family probate records may provide some hints as to the background of Merrit Good, Sr. Lemuel Good and Richard Young Goode’s father Richard Good VI served as a major in the Revolutionary War, residing in Abingdon, Wythe County, Virginia. After his death from gangrene in 1801 en route to Kentucky, his widow Rebecca Young Goode and her children, including Lemuel Goode and Richard Young Goode, continued to travel with a number of slaves to Kentucky. See:

Richard Good’s will was testated in June 1801 (Henry County Will Book I, p. 17; and in Virginia will records), He bequeaths several slaves to his wife and children:

To Charles Good, my beloved son, a negro boy David

To Susie (?) Good, my beloved daughter, a negro girl Jude

To my beloved daughter Dice (Dicey?). a negro girl Lina (?)

To my beloved daughter Margaret, a negro girl Esther

To my beloved wife Rebecca Good, a negro man by the name Gilbert, a negro man by the name Jesse, a negro woman by the name of Patt, one by the name of Joe (?).

To my beloved son Joel a negro Peter

To my beloved son Samuel a negro Ede (?)

To my beloved son Richard Goode a negro boy named Elas (?)

Rebecca Goode’s will in Henry County, Kentucky, (Henry County Will Records, 1800-1812, Vol. 1, p, 72) in turn references a negro woman Patt and a negro woman Jude who had been bequeathed to her by her late husband Richard Goode for her lifetime (widows normally did not receive full ownership of their husband’s property). She bequeaths Jude to her son in law William Bartlett, the husband of her daughter Dicey. She bequeaths the negro woman Patt and her other slaves and their “increase” (meaning the future children of the females) to her other children.

It is possible that some of the slaves of Lemuel Good and his brother Richard Young Goode,discussed above, were derived from or related to this set of enslaved people.

Please share any information or insights into the early history of the Good-Bowen family dating back to the period of enslavement.

Descendants of Gerschon Ausländer and Hennie Salzman: Timeline

c. 1820 birth of Gerschon Ausländer, Sadagora, Chernivisti, Austrio Hungarian Empire

c. 1825 birth of Hennie Salzman, Bukovina

c. 1840 ? Gerschon Auslander marries Hennie Salzman

c 1847. Birth of Moses Aron Ausländer, son of Gerschon and Hennie Ausländer. in Sadagora, Chernivtsi, Bukovina. Austrio Hungary

c. 1865? Moses Aron Ausländer marries Esther Resch.

c.1867 Birth of Sarah Ausländer daughter of Moses Aron Ausländer and Esther Resch.

23 Mar 1868 Birth of Isak Ausländer, son of Moses Aron Ausländer and Esther Resch. Radautz

c. 1870 Birth of Clara Tauber (future wife of Isak Ausländer) , Radautz?

30 Mar 1877 Birth of Alfred Ausländer son of Moses Aron Ausländer and Esther Resch. Radautz

16 May, 1879 Birth of Gustav Ausländer , son of Moses Aron Ausländer and Esther Resch. Radautz

1880, birth of Anna Ausländer, daughter of Moses Aron Ausländer and Esther Resch. Radautz

1 April 1889, Birth of Nathan Ausländer, son of Sarah Ausländer and probably Alter Mehler. (Since marriage was not officialized, Nathan retains his mother’s surname.)

4 June 1889 Nathan Ausländer’s father Alter Mehler departs Hamburg, travels alone to Canada, when his newborn son (born 1 April, 1889) was just about two months old. So Sarah Ausländer left behind to raise Nathan, presumably staying in the household of her father Moses Aron Ausländer. At some point, Sarah’s sister Anna (according to Bruno Auslander) helped raise Nathan.

4 Jan 1891, Attested to in Radautz: Moses Aron Ausländer legalized his previously common law marriage with his spouse Ester Resch: “I recognize my children produced with Ester Resch before the closure of our marriage: Sara, Isak, Chane, Uscher, Gerschon as married to Esther Resch. Radautz. 4 January 1891.”

4 March 1894. Birth of Tsuli Sarah Auslander, daughter of Isak Auslander and Clara Tauber Auslander. Radautz.

16 March 1895 Birth of Lala Henrietta Ausländer, daughter of Isak Ausländer and Clara Tauber Auslander. Radautz .

17 April 1896. Netti Koppelmann (future wife of Nathan Ausländer) born to merchant Berl Koppelmann and Mali Koppelmann, all from Radautz.

28 Sept 1896 Birth of Jacob Ausländerr, son of Isak Ausländerr and Clara Tauber Auslander. Radautz.

24 Oct 1898 • Birth of Cilli Ausländer. daughter of Isak Ausländer and Clara Tauber Ausländer. Radautz .

c. 1900 Sarah Ausländer marries Zabek Konner (later Sam Kerner)

c. 1900 Birth of Bertha Ausländer Konner Kerner, daughter of Sarah Ausländer and Zabek Konner?

c. 1900-02 Marriage of Alfred Ausländer to Rougea Eiferman. Czernowitz?

16 July 1901. . Gustav Ausländer, son of Moses Aron Ausländer, arrives in New York

24 Nov 1901 • Birth of Gisela Ausländer (1901–1902),daughter of Isak Ausländer and Clara Tauber Ausländer. Radautz .

23 September 103. Uscher (later Alfred) Auslander, and Rougea Eifferman arrive in New York City with Rougea’s parents, Samuel and Netti (Finkel) Eifermann, from Czernowitz.  Rougea still listed on passenger manifest with surname Eifferman; perhaps they underwent another wedding ceremony in the US?

19 Feb 1902. Death of Gisela Ausländer. Radatuz

5 June 1902. Birth of Clara Ausländer Konner Kerner, daughter of Sarah Auslander and Zabek Konner

c. 1903 Birth Caroline Auslander (1903–) , daughter of Alfred and Rougea Auslander, NY

May 13, 1904 Birth of George Auslander (1904–), son of Alfred and Rougea Auslander . New York

5 Oct 1903 • Birth of Julia July Ausländer(1903–1934) daughter of Isak Ausländer and Clara Tauber Ausländer. Radautz .

29 May 1904. Gustav Auslander marries Minnie Beutel. Brooklyn. BY

c. 1905 Birth of Rose Auslander, daughter of Gustav and Minnie Auslander

15 Sep 1905 Birth Isidore Isidor Siegried Auslander(1905–) son of Isak Auslander and Clara Tauber Auslander. Radautz .
15 May 1908. Birth of Helen Auslander, daughter of Gustav and Minnie Auslander

1911 Sarah Ausländer (daughter of Moses Aron Auslander) arrives in New York, with Zabek Konnor (later Sam Kerner) and daughters Clara and Bertha. Sarah’s son Nathan Ausländer left behind with his grandfather Moses Aron Auslander,

30 Dec 1912 Birth of Jesse Auslander, son of Gustav and Minnie Auslander, New York.

16 Dec 1915 Death of Esther Resch Ausländer, wife of Moses Aron Ausländer, Radautz, Bukovina

c. 1918 Birth of Stanley Auslander, son of Alfred and Rougea Auslander

7 Jan 1920 Death of Sara Auslander (1867–1920), daughter of Moses Aron Auslander and Esther Resch. Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA,

c. 1920 Cilli Ausländer earns doctorate in Chemistry, University of Vienna

c. 1921 birth of Bruno Ausländer, son of Nathan and Nettie Ausländer Radautz.

24 December 1922. Birth of Josef/Yosef/Yuziu (later Joseph) Ausländer, son of Nathan and Nettie Ausländer, Radautz

26 Nov 1923 Dr. Jacob Ausländer arrives in New York City, on the SS Sierra Ventana sailing from Bremen, from Vienna. (Cilli’s story is that on the train trip from Vienna, the train was diverted due to the Munich Beer Hall attempted Nazi putsch of Nov 8-9.)

c. 1924 Birth of Otto Wildman (later Shalmon?), son of Lala Ausländer Wildman, and Nutzl Widman, Czernowitz. (Later marries Tamar, children are Ani Shalmon, and Dafni Chabusha )

c. 1924. Dr Jacob Auslander pursues Residency in psychiatry, in Wisconsin before settling in New York and opening a practice there.

c. 1920. Martha Klinghoffer born, daughter of Dr. Robert Klinghoffer and Sarah Auslander Klinghoffer

c. 1921 Birth of Stella Avni Wildman, daughter of Nutzl Wildman and Henrietta Lala Ausländer Wildman. Czernowitz. (later married Albert Braunstein?)

January 1925. Alfred and Rougea Auslander, with son Stanley return from Europe, having visited Cilli Ausländer in Vienna. (Cilli declares Stanley “looks like a Romanian Prince”)

5 Nov 1926. Dr. Jacob Auslander marries Rebekah Zeltzer, New York City. She works as his his nurse, X-ray technician and office manager over the next three decades. )

8 Dec 1926. Death of Moses Aron Ausländer, in Radautz, Bukovina

c. 1927 Birth of Arthur “Moishe-Aaron” Klinghoffer, son of Dr. Robert Klinghoffer and Sarah Ausländer Klinghoffer, Bukovina

c. 1929. Dr Jacob and Rebekah Auslander travel to Europe, including to Radautz to see Jacob’s parents, etc.

21 March 1929. Rose Auslander married Leo Holland on 21 March 1929). Children were: Marvin Holland (1931-2013) and Eugene William Holland (b.1932)

c. 1930 Birth of Joseph Auslander, son of Jacob and Rebekah Auslander. New York City

c. 30 Aug 1931. Helen Auslander marries Herbert Holland. Children: Carol Sue Holland and Shelly Holland.

30 August 1932. Dr. Jacob Auslander returns from Europe (Cherbourg France). (Did he see his parents?)

c 1933 Birth of Irene Judith Auslander, daughter of Jacob and Rebekah Auslander

October 1933. Death of Alfred Auslander, son of Moses Aron Ausländer in Queens, New York

19 Nov 1934 • Death of Julie Ausländer Pagis, daughter of Isak and Clara Ausländer. Vienna. Appendectomy operation, evidently unnecessary.

c. 1935? Joseph Pagis, husband of Julie Ausländer Pagis, departs from Bukovina for Palestine.

1934-41 Severin Pagis raised by his grandparents, Isak and Clara Ausländer in Radautz. (Subsequent correspondence reveals Joseph asked Isak to send Severin to him, but Isak refused, hoping Severin would join Dr. Jacob (Bi) Auslander in New York and study medicine.

Summer 1936. Dr. Jacob (“Bi”) Auslander travels to Radautz in futile attempt to convince his parents Isak and Clara to return with him to New York City. (Arthur Klinghoffer recalls being given a book by Felix Salten, perhaps Bambi, by Bi, to Storonijet.) Not sure if Bi was able to see Cilli during this visit.

1 September 1936. Dr. Jacob Auslander arrives back in NYC, without his parents.

c. 1936? Cilli Ausländer released from Romanian prison system; resides in Vienna, later Paris?

c. 1937? Cilli Ausländer travels to the Soviet Union? Remains there through most of WWII, attached to the Comintern. Becomes friends with her brother Bi’s sister in law, Pauline Zeltzer Klein in Moscow, who had arrived in Moscow in late 1933. Cilli gets to know the children Joseph and Eva (and perhaps also Sol Klein?)

c. 1937. Joseph Auslander attends the Birch Wathen School (private) in the West 90s.

24 Oct 1937. Jesse Auslander (son of Gustav Auslander) marries Pauline Kweller ,24 October 1937. Children were Susan Auslander (1941-2012) and Marjorie Auslander.

12 September 1938. Martha Edith Klinghoffer, age 18?, daughter of Dr. Robert Klinghoffer and Sarah Ausländer Klinghoffer, arrives from Storojinet, Bukovina, Romania to New York, on SS Normandie from Le Havre. Lives with her mother’s brother Dr. Jacob Auslander and Rebekah Auslander, first briefly at 520 W 110th St, then at 120 Riverside Drive, Manhattan, their new address, with her cousins Joe and Judy Auslander

September 1938. Dr. Jacob Auslander and Rebekah move from 520 W. 110th street to 120 Riverside Drive, allowing Joe and Judy to attend PS 9.

18 August 1941, Isak Ausländer arrested in Radautz on charges of “having foreign currency.” [SANIC (Serviciul Arhivelor NaţionaleI storice Centrale in Bucharest), fund Collection 50, file 313, page 549. See: He and other Jewish leaders were then released for a period of time 

5 April 1939, Birth of June Auslander, daughter of George Auslander and Evelyn Steiner Auslander. New York.

c. 1941 Siegfried “Tzip” “Salman” Ausländer, son of Isak and Clara Auslander . was in Palestine by this point, according to Arthur Klinghoffer, so did not experience the Holocaust deportations.

c. 1941-1944. Cilli Ausländer attached to Comintern, stationed hjust outside of Moscow, helps organize a system of underground hospitals outside of Moscow during the battle period.

Oct 1941. Isak Ausländer and other Jewish leaders in Radautz held as hostage temporarily by fascist authorities in local Gymnasium, to secure Jewish cooperation with the deportation process.

October 9-14, 1941. Deportation of Jews of Radautz. including Isak and Clara Ausländer, and grandson Severin Pagis, to Transnistria. Also deported are Nathan and Netti Ausländer, and son Joseph Ausländer (perhaps on same train transport, of cattle train cars). Initially across Dniester River to Moghilev? It is known that there were four transport trains from Radautz, of cattle cars, carrying a total of about 8,000 Jewish residents. Ultimately only three Jews allowed to remain in Radautz.

c. December 1941. Cilli Ausländer, stationed in a small industrial town outside of Moscow. recalls seeing the eastern horizon at night as wall of flame. She was reading War and Peace, and fears Moscow has fallen, but dawn reveals hundreds of Wermacht panzers destroyed in a great Red Army victory. She recalls living thorugh the coldest Russian winter of the century during the campagn

1941-44. Nathan, Netti and Joseph Ausländer in Moghilev, Transnistria. Joseph works in Jagendorf’s Foundry, which helps the family survive the Deportation period.

1941-45. Dr. Robert Klinghoffer, wife Sarah Ausländer Klinghoffer, and son Arthur Klinghoffer allowed to remain in Storonijet, Bukovina, since Robert was a physician, Not deported.

1941-45. Isak and Clara’s daughter Henrietta and her husband Nutzl Wildman and their children remained safely in Czernowitz during the war, and were not deported. Possibly due to leadership of Traian Popovici, a conscientious attorney who served as mayor of Czernowitz/Chernivtsi during World War II.

1941-1945. Bruno Ausländer, son of Nathan and Nettie Auslander, spends war period in Uzbekistan, USSR.

1940-1945. Stanley Auslander, son of Alfred and Rougea Auslander, serves in US Navy, stationed in Brazil and England where he flew convoy patrol missions and had several encounters with German U-boats. (His son Dean Auslander recalls).Hamilton

17 Dec 1942. Money transferred to Isak Ausländer in Vindiceni. USHMM records.

December 28, 1942, Death of Minnie Beutel Auslander, wife of Gustav Auslander. New York.

1942-early 1944. Isak and Clara Ausländer reside in the work camp in Vindiceni, Transnistria, during Holocaust. Isak works in sugar factory, evidently. Grandson Severin Pagis with them for most of this time, then transferred at some point, perhaps late 1943, to an orphanage in Moghilev? (Antonescu fascist regime in Romania slightly relaxed some Jewish policies, for children especially, as they anticipated the tide of war changing).

c. 1943. birth of Diane Peters Auslander (daughter of George and Evelyn Auslander) Mother of Jordan Peters and Grant Peters.

c. 1943. document in USHMM lists Isak Ausländer getting two payments associated with a sugar factory, in the Jewish ghetto of Vindiceni. (He had been a sugar merchant in Radautz, so perhaps helped restore the factory?)

31 March 1943. Isak Ausländer still in Vindiceni. Listed in a Holocaust Museum database document, listing a remittance to him.

January 1944. Isak Ausländer dies in Vindiceni, Transnistria. Typhus or Tuberculosis. (About two months before the town is liberated by the Red Army).

February 1944, Register from an Orphans’ Camp in Moghilev lists Severin Pagis as an inmate. (At some point after this Severin escapes and walks with two young male friends all the way to Czernowitz, where he stays with his mother’s sister Lala Henrietta Auslander Wildman.

c. December 1944. Cilli Ausländer transferred from Comintern to Red Army as interpreter for March on Berlin, from Moscow. She has a farewell meeting with her brother’s sister in law Pauline Zeltzer Klein in Pauline’s Moscow apartment. Cilli tries to give Pauline her Soviet war bonds “for the children,” in case she does not survive the NKVD or the coming military operations.

— 1944. Stanley Auslander marries Jean Hamilton, East Greenwhich, FI.

c. 1945, Nathan, Nettie and son Joseph Ausländer return to Radautz, Bukovina.

c. 1945. Severin Pagis reunited with his grandmother Clara Ausländer evidently at home of the Wildman’s in Czernowitz

c. 1945 Robert and Sarah Klinghoffer and son Arthur move from Storonijet to Radautz, to avoid living under direct Soviet rule. Stay with Clara Auslander in a room in her old house. in Czernowitz, while most of house is occupied by police.

c. 1946. Birth of Gail Auslander, daughter of Stanley and Jean Auslander. New York.

c 1946. Severin Pagis travels from Bukovina to Palestine. Belongings stolen en route. Sees his father Joseph Pagis, then goes to Kibbutz Dan. Changes name to Dan Pagis

c. 1945-1948. Clara Ausländer resides in several rooms of her previous house in Radautz, most of which was occupied by the local police force. Also living with her, in two room was her daughter Tsuli and son in law Bertel (Robert) Klinghoffer, and her grandson Arthur, since the family had moved 40 km from Storojinet to Radautz, in part to avoid life under direct Soviet rule.

c. 1946. Cilli Ausländer travels back to Radautz to see her mother Clara Ausländer; the two women share their belief that they survived air raids because of their refusal to go into basement shelters.

c. June 1947. Trial of Dr. Jacob Auslander, for Contempt of Congress, Washington DC (refusal to name names in front of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee)

8 July 1947, Martha Klinghoffer marries Ben Cohen. New York

c. 1950 Birth of Dean Auslander, son of Stanley and Jean Auslander.

c 1950. Dr. Jacob Auslander imprisoned, Danbury Federal Prison, for Contempt of Congress (refusal to name names in front of the House Un American Activities Committee) His cellmate was the playwright nd screenwriter Ring Lardner. (Later Bi’s medical license is suspended by the New York Medical Society, so he can only undertake research but not care for patients for some time.)

21 March 1951. Dr. Jacob Auslander, wife Rebekah and daughter Judy travel to Europe, including Vienna, and Israel, to see relatives.

14 Apr 1955. Death of Jesse Auslander, son of Gustav Auslander, NY

c. 1956. Irene Judith Auslander marries Alan Saks.

June 1958. Death of Dr. Jacob Auslander, New York City, age 61. Stomach cancer.

c. 1962 Josef/Yosef/Yuziu/ Ausländer and wife Dora Fichman Auslander emigrate from Bucharest, Romania to Paris, France. Secret payments made by Dora’s father in Israel to Romanian authorities for their emigration (Josef’s technical expertise made him high value for the Romanian Securitate). Yosef changes name to Joseph.

Nathan and Netti Auslander remain in Radautz, Bukovina, Romania.

c. 1964. Birth of Edgar Denis Auslander, son of Joseph and Dora Auslander, Paris.

c. 1965. Birth of Danielle Klinghoffer, daughter of Arthur and Lillie Klinghoffer. Israel.

2 March 1968. Death of Gustav Auslander. Miami, Florida.

c. 1975 Death of Nathan Ausländer. Radautz. Romania.

10 May 1982. Death of Evelyn Auslander, Miami FL.

c. 1986. Death of Dan Pagis. Israel.

11 Oct 1996. Death of George Auslander. Miami, FL

c. 1989. Death of Cilli Ausländer, Vienna.

11 Oct 1996. Death of Evelyn Steiner Auslander, wife of George Auslander

30 March 2007. Death of Stanley Auslander.

c. 2009 Death of Martha Klinghoffer Cohen.

26 Feb 2011. Death of June Auslander.

c. 2019 Death of Joseph [Josef] Auslander (son of Nathan and Nettie Ausländer ) in Paris.

c. 2022. Death of Lillie Klinghoffer, wife of Arthur Klinghoffer, Israel.