EVENTS

Item set

Title
EVENTS
Description
This set contains all events in our database. To easily browse, sort, and search event records, please use our Explore Events interface, which is linked below.
Go to EXPLORE EVENTS interface

Items

Advanced search
  • 1717-06-03 Sale: Phebe
    On June 3, 1717, Shoball Smith sold an enslaved Black woman named Phebe to Samuel Smith for the sum of 50 pounds. A partial transcript of the sale record appears in the 1873 book Woodbridge and Vicinity by Joseph W. Dally on page 185: "Records of the sale of Africans are frequently found in MSS. relating to the town. The following, bearing date June 3d, 1717, is written in Liber B, folio 100: 'Know all men by these presents yt I, Shoball Smith, of Woodbridge, In ye County of Midd[lese]x In ye provence New East Jersey, for and In Consideration of ye sum of fifty pound Currant Silver money, of ye sd provence, to me In hand paid by Samuel Smith of ye Same place, yeoman of ye town and provence aforesd—do bargain, sell, allineat and Deliver one Negro woman Named Phebe to sd Samll Smith, for him, his heirs and assigns,' etc."
  • 1730 Sale: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
    According to Ukawsaw Gronniosaw's autobiography, the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen purchased Gronniosaw from his former enslaver named Vanhorn for 50 pounds. As the result of this sale, Gronniosaw moved from Vanhorn's household in New York City to Frelinghuysen's home in Raritan, New Jersey. See p. 12 in Gronniosaw's book: "Mr. Freelandhouse, a very gracious, good Minister, heard it, and he took a great deal of notice of me, and desired my master to part with me to him. He would not hear of it at first, but, being greatly persuaded, he let me go, and Mr. Freelandhouse gave £50. for me."
  • 1733-06-09 Sale: Genny
    On June 9, 1733, Richard Scudder of Elizabethtown sold a Black girl (or woman) named Genny to Jonathan Dickinson. Genny's age at the time of the sale is uncertain. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Know all Men by these Psents that I, Richard Scudder of Elizabeth Town in the County of Essex and Provine of New Jersey Yeoman Have bargained sold and delivered unto Jonathan Dickinson of Elizabeth-Town aforsd a certain Negro Girl named Genny To Have and To Hold the sd Negro Girl unto him the sd Jonathan Dickinson and to his Heirs Executors Administrators and Assigns during her natural Life And I do hereby for my self my Heirs Executors and Administrators bargain Covenant and agree with him the sd Jonathan Dickinson and with His Heirs Executors and Administrators that I the sd Richard Scudder had at the Time of the sale of that Negro Girl a just Propriety in her & full Power to dispose of her And also that I and my Heirs will warrant and defend him the sd Jonathan Dickinson and his Heirs and Assignes in the peaceable Possession and Property of the sd Negro Girl against all manner of Persons whatsoever legally claiming a Propriety in Her as Witness my Hand and Seal this ninth Day of June one thousand seven hundred and thirty three and in the Sixth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George the second of Great Brittain & King & — Richard Scudder {Seal} David Thomas Samuel ____ton"
  • 1738-02-09 Advertisement: Black man
    Samuel Hazard advertised an auction for a 35-year-old Black man as well as a house and lot in New York City on Broad Street (occupied by Mrs. Marston). The auction was to take place on February 9, 1738. (Samuel Hazard was a merchant and one of the original trustees of Princeton University.) ----- Transcript of the source document: "To be sold at Publick Vendue on Thursday the 9th of February, at 2 o'clock in the Afternoon, a House and Ground in Broad Street, in which Mrs. Marston now lives, the Lot contains in length on each side, One Hundred Foot in Breadth on the East-end, Fronting Broad Street, Forty Foot, and in the Rear Forty Four Foot, Wood-Measure. Also to be sold Five Sixths of a Quarter of an Undivided Lot of Ground lying near the Fresh-Water, Together with the Pot-House and Lot there, the whole Lot contains in Length Forty Four Rods, and in Breadth Twenty Four Rods. There is also to be sold a Negro man, Aged about Thirty Five Years. The Sale of all to be at the House in Broad Street above mentioned. Whoever inclines to purchase may be informed of the Title by Samuel Hazard at Mr. Thomas Nobles near the Old Slip. "
  • 1742-07-30 Sale: York
    Theodorus Van Dyck, a New York City merchant, sold a Black man named York to Hendrick Van Dyck, yeoman, on July 30, 1742, for the sum of 30 pounds. York was about 50 years old at the time of the sale. The sale was witnessed by two men, one named Tobias (last name illegible) and the other John Hastier, a prominent New York City silversmith who was known to use enslaved labor in his shop. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Know all men by these Presents, That I Theod'os [Theodorus] Van Dyck of the City of New York merch for and in Consideration of the sum of Thirty pounds Current money of the province of New York to me in hand paid at and before the Ensealing and Delivery of these presents by Hendrick Van Dyck of Kings County in the province of New York yeoman. The receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, and my self to be therewith fully satisfied and paid, and thereof and Every part thereof Do hereby acquit and discharge the said Hendrick Van Dyck his Executors adm'ors [administrators] and assignes. Have granted bargained and sold and by these presents do fully clearly & absolutely part bargain and sell unto the said Hendrick Van Dyck one Negro man Named York aged about fifty years. To Have & to Hold the s'd [said] negro man York unto him the said Henrick Van Dyck his Executors administrators and assignes for ever. And I the said Theod'os [Theodorus] Van Dyck for my self my Executors and administrators and assignes do Covenant promise and grant to and with the said Hendrick Van Dyck his Executors administrators & assignes to waviant and Defend the sale of the above named Negro man against all persons whatsoever. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 30th day of July one thousand Seven Hundred and forty two. Sealed and Delivered} Theodorus Van Dyck in the presence of} John Hastier Tobias [? yck]"
  • 1747 Manumission: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
    According to Ukawsaw Gronniosaw's autobiography, the Rev. Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen manumitted Gronniosaw in his will and also left him 10 pounds. At the time of Frelinghuysen's death around 1747, Gronniosaw had been enslaved in the Frelinghuysen household for nearly two decades. After his manumission, Gronniosaw continued working for the Frelinghuysen family as a servant for several years. See p. 18-19 in Gronniosaw's book: "my temporal comforts were all blasted by the death of my dear and worthy Master Mr. Freelandhouse, who was taken from this world rather suddenly: he had but a short illness, and died of a fever. I held his hand in mine, when he departed; he told me he had given me my freedom. I was at liberty to go where I would.--He added that he had always pray'd for me and hop'd I should be kept unto the end. My master left me by his will ten pounds, and my freedom."
  • 1752 Transfer: Nell
    According to an April 1753 runaway ad, Nell was previously enslaved by "Robert J. Livingston, Merchant in New York," and by 1753 was enslaved by "ISAAC KINGSLAND of Saddle River, in Bergen County, East New Jersey." From this source, we can infer that Nell was transferred from one enslaver to the other at some point before April 1753, likely sold from one man to the other. The date and details of the sale or transfer are not known.
  • 1752-10-28 Freedom seeking: Unnamed African man [Livingston]
    In November 1752, slave trader Philip Livingston offered a reward of 3 pounds for the capture of an African man who escaped from Livingston in New York City. The man did not speak any English or Dutch (the primary European languages in eighteen-century New York) because he was only recently brought to New York City from Africa. This incident took place 14 years before Philip Livingston would became a charter trustee of Queen's College. The advertisement offered a description of the man's African hairstyle: "his hair or wool is curled in locks, in a very remarkable manner." Livingston also referred to the man as a "a very likely lusty fellow." In eighteenth-century America, the term "likely" meant good looking, while the term "lusty" meant healthy and vigorous. Thus the words "a very likely lusty fellow" suggest that the freedom seeker was a strong and healthy man in the prime of his life. Livingston supposed that the freedom seeker made his way toward the woods near Harlem, which was at that time a small village north of New York City on the Island of Manhattan (the Harlem area has since then been incorporated into New York City as a neighborhood north of Central Park). The following is a transcript of the advertisement from the New-York Gazette issue of November 6, 1752: "Run away from Philip Livingson [sic], of New York, on the 28th of October last; a Negro Man, lately imported from Africa, his Hair or wool is curled in locks, in a very remarkable manner; he is a very likely lusty fellow, and cannot speak a word of English, or Dutch, or any other language but that of his own country. He was seen last Monday on New York Island, and is supposed now to be in the Woods near Harlem. whoever takes up said Fellow, and delivers him to his said master shall receive THREE POUNDS as a reward, from PHILIP LIVINGSTON."
  • 1753-04-12 Freedom seeking: Nell
    On April 12, 1753, a Black woman named Nell ran away from enslaver Isaac Kingsland of Saddle River, in Bergen County, New Jersey. She took with her many articles of clothing when she left. Kingsland published a runaway ad offering a reward of forty shillings for Nell's capture and return. The ad mentioned that Nell was previously enslaved by Robert Livingston, a merchant in New York. It also noted that Nell had "three Diamonds in her face, one on each side and the other on her Forehead," likely referring to facial markings representing Nell's cultural heritage. Below is the full text of the ad as it appeared in the April 23, 1753, issue of the newspaper New-York Gazette, or, the Weekly Post-Boy: "Run away the 12th Instant April, from ISAAC KINGSLAND of Saddle River, in Bergen County, East New Jersey, a Negro Wench named Nell, who formerly belonged to Robert J. Livingston, Merchant in New York: she is a tall slim Wench, has three Diamonds in her face, one on each side and the other on her Forehead: had on and taken with her when she went away, three Petticoats, one is an old quilted one, and the other two homespun, one striped and the other mixed a blue and white striped short gown, a bluish homespun Waistcoat, and an Ozenbrigs shirt, with Homespun sleeves, a short blue cloke, a new pair of Blue Stockings, a pair of old crooked shoes, and several other Things too tedious to mention. These are therefore to Forewarn all Masters of Vessels and others, of carrying off, concealing or harbouring said Wench, as they will answer it at their peril with the utmost Rigour of the Law· Whoever takes up the foremention'd Negroe, and secures her in any Goal, so that her master can have her again, shall have Forty Shillings reward, and all reasonable charges paid by ISAAC KINGSLAND."
  • 1756-05-06 Baptism: Rachel, Mary, Margaret, Robert Johnson, Bella
    Rachel and her children were all baptized together on May 6, 1756, at Christ Church in Shrewsbury. ----- Transcript of the source document: "[1756] May 6 | Rachel | An adult Negro servant belonging to Miss Isabella Kearny | Shrewsbury | Priv. 6 | Mary } 6 | Margaret } Robert | Johnson } 6 | Bella } Children of the above Rachel | Ditto"
  • 1756-09-02 Sale: Caesar
    On September 2, 1756, Aaron Burr Sr bought an enslaved Black man named Caesar from John Livingston of New York. At this time, Aaron Burr Sr was serving as the president of Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey). In consequence of this sale, Caesar would relocate from New York to Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Know all Men by these Presents, That I John Livingston of the City of New York Merch. For and in Consideration of of the Sum of Eighty Pounds Current money of the Province of New York to me in Hand paid at and before the Ensealing and Delivery of these Presents, by The Rev. Mr. Aaron Burr President of the College of New Jersey the Receipt whereof I do hearby acknowledge, and myself to be therewith fully satisfied, contented and paid: Have Granted, Bargained, Sold, Released, and by these Presents do fully, clearly, and absolutely grant, bargain, sell and release unto the said Mr. Aaron Burr his heirs assigns a Certain Negro Man named Caesar. To Have and to Hold the said Negro Man Caesar unto the said Mr. Aaron Burr his Executors, Administrators and Assigns for ever. And I the said John Livingston for Myself, my Heirs, Executors Administrators, do covenant and agree to and with the above - named Aaron Burr His Executors, Administrators and Assigns, to warrant and defend the Sale of the above - named Negro Man named Caesar against all Persons whatsoever. In Witness whereof I hereunto set my Hand and Seal Second Day of September Annoq; Dom. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Six Jno Livingston [seal] Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of Jos. Forman John G. Lansing "
  • 1758-08-13 Freedom seeking: Prince
    On August 13, 1758, a Black man named Prince ran away from his enslaver William Peartree Smith of Elizabethtown (present-day Elizabeth), New Jersey. He went to New York and crossed over King's Bridge heading north from Manhattan Island. At the bridge, he showed a false pass and said that he was enslaved by a butcher in New York City and that he had authorization to go to the country to bring back cattle for the butcher. Prior to this escape, Prince was at one time a resident of Dutchess County in New York's Hudson Valley, where he had been enslaved by a man named Mr. Nixon, and it is possible that Prince was headed toward his old home when he passed King's Bridge. William Peartree Smith, who was a long-time trustee of Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey), posted a runaway ad seeking Prince. The transcript below is from the August 21, 1758, issue of the New-York Gazette, or, the Weekly Post-Boy newspaper: "RUN away on the 13th of August Instant, from William Peartree Smith Esq; of Elizabeth-Town in New Jersey; A Negro Man called Prince, had on a Leather Cap, Linnen Waistcoat and Breeches, coarse blue Stockings, a thick pair of Shoes, speaks English and Dutch, has lived in Jamaica in the West-Indies with Mr Simon Parsco, and in Dutchess-County, in New York Colony with Mr. Nixon, has been lately seen in New-York, and it is said has passed King's-Bridge, where he shewed a Pass and pretended that he belonged to a Butcher in New-York, and was going into the Country to fetch Cattle for his Master: Whoever secures him in any of his Majesty's Goals, so that his Master may have him again, shall be well rewarded." This ad ran in the paper for three weeks. Then, on September 18, 1758, Smith updated the ad, changing only the last sentence to specify the amount of the reward: "Whoever secures him in any of his Majesty's Goals, so that his Master may have him again, shall have FIVE POUND reward." Considering the timing of this update, it appears that Prince was still at large more than a month after his escape. Prince's fate after September 1758 is uncertain.
  • 1763-06-15 Freedom seeking: Phill
    Phill, a Black woman or girl, ran away from Samuel Hallett of Hallett's Cove (present-day Astoria, Queens, New York) around June 1763. Her age at the time of this event is unknown. Phill's primary enslaver was James Neilson of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and it is unclear how long Phill was living with or working for Samuel Hallett in New York prior to her escape. A runaway advertisement offering a reward of twenty shillings for Phill's capture and return was published in the newspaper called The New-York Gazette, or, the Weekly Post-Boy on June 16, 1763. In addition to Samuel Hallett and James Neilson, the ad mentioned that Phill could be brought to James Abeel in New York if she was captured. James Abeel was the husband of James Neilson's niece Gertrude Neilson Abeel, and evidently he was ready to assist James Neilson in capturing Phill. The full text of the runaway ad follows below: "RUN away, last Night, from Samuel Hallett, of Hallett's Cove, a Negro Girl, named Phill, belonging to James Neilson, Esq; of New-Brunswick, about five Feet high, well made, and pretty Black. Whoever will take up and secure the said Wench, or bring her to said Hallett, or James Abeel, in New-York, or to her said Master, at New-Brunswick, shall receive TWENTY SHILLINGS Reward, and all reasonable Charges, by either of the above mentioned Persons."
  • 1764-07-01 Freedom seeking: Silas
    On July 1, 1764, Silas (called Sy for short) ran away from his enslaver Isaac Coats, a brickmaker in Philadelphia. This was the first of many runaway attempts by Silas documented in the Philadelphia Journal newspaper. ----- Transcript of the source document: "July 12. RUN-away the 1st inst. from Isaac Coats, brick-maker in Philadelphia. A Negro boy of a yellowish colour, about 12 years of age, named Sy, a thickset fellow. Had on when he went away an oznabrigs shirt and trowsers, and a double breasted grey jacket. Whoever takes up and brings said negro boy to his master, shall have FIFTEEN SHILLINGS reward, paid by ISAAC COATS. N.B. All masters of vessels and others are forbid on their peril, to harbour or carry him off."
  • 1764-08 Capture: Silas
    A Black boy named Silas (called Sy for short) was apprehended after running away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats of Philadelphia. He originally ran away on July 1, 1764, and he was still at large as of July 12. The exact date and place of his capture are uncertain, but we know that Silas was captured because later historical records place him again at Isaac Coats's home in Philadelphia.
  • 1766-06-25 Will (of Samuel Finley): Peg
    The following is the abstract of the will of Samuel Finley, president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) as printed in the Calendar of Wills, Vol. 4: "1766, June 25. Finley, Samuel, of Somerset Co.; will of. President of College of Princeton. Daughter, Rebecca Breese, a negro girl, Peg. Rest of real and personal to be sold, except the annuity that shall arise from the Corporation of the Widows’ Fund; and 1/3 of: that annuity I give to my wife, Ann; and I also give her 1/3 of the rest of my estate. The remaining 2/3 from the Fund and the estate I give to my children, Joseph, Susannah, Samuel, John, Ebenezer and Edward, when they come of age. Executors—my wife, Ann, my son-in-law, Samuel Breese, of Newark, and friend, Richard Stockton, of Princeton. Witnesses—James Thomson, Samuel Blair, Daniel Roberdeau. Proved July 22, 1766. Lib. 12, p. 43"
  • 1766-07-31 Advertisement: 2 Black women, a Black man, and 3 Black children for the estate of Samuel Finley
    On July 31, 1766, a sale advertisement for six Black people was published in a Philadelphia newspaper called the Pennsylvania Journal. These six people would be sold at public auction on August 19, 1766, in Princeton. The advertisers also indicated that they were willing to arrange a private sale before the auction date. These six enslaved people were sold for the estate of Samuel Finely, the late president of Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey). The advertisers were two men. One was Samuel Breese of New York, the late president's son-in-law and executor of his estate. The second man was listed as "Jonathan Seargeant, jun. in Princeton," who was not an executor but was brokering the sales in Princeton. This probably refers to Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, a 20-year-old Princeton alumnus. His father, Jonathan Sergeant, was also affiliated with Princeton University and living in Princeton at this time, but since the ad specified "junior," we can infer that the younger Jonathan was the one who placed the ad. The auction was to take place at the President's House in Princeton where Finley had resided. Household furniture, cattle, tools, and books would be sold at the same time. ----- Transcript of the source document: "July 31 TO BE SOLD, At public vendue, on the 19th of August next, at the presidents house in Princeton, all the personal estate of the late Revd. Dr. SAMUEL FINLEY, consisting of, TWO Negro women, a negro man, and three Negro children, houshold furniture, horses, and neat cattle, a light wagon, a new chaise, a sleigh, some hay, and grain, together with a variety of farming utensils. Also a choice collection of books, religious, moral and historical, containing the complete library of the deceased. The Negroes will be disposed of at private sale previous to the day appointed for the vendue, should a suitable price be offered for them, The Negro woman understands all kinds of house work, and the Negro man is well fitted for the business of farming in all its branches. The conditions of the vendue will be made known on the day of sale. All those that are indebted to the said estate by bond, note, or book debts, are desired to make immediate payment to the subscribers, and such as have any demands against the estate are desired to send in their accounts properly attested to. JONATHAN SEARGEANT, jun. in Princeton, or SAMUEL BREESE, Executor, in New York."
  • 1766-08 Baptism: Dinah, Daniel, Chloe, Phillis
    Four Black children named Dinah, Daniel, Chloe, and Phillis, all enslaved by Isabella Kearney, were baptized at the Christ Church in Shrewsbury in August 1766. The names of the children's parents were not recorded in the church register. At the time of this event, Isabella Kearney was the proprietor of a farm in the area of Marsh's Bog (present-day Farmingdale), Monmouth County, NJ, and it can be inferred that the children lived there.
  • 1769-06-10 Freedom seeking: Ben, Jack
    On June 10, 1769, two young Black men named Ben and Jack together escaped from their enslavers. Ben was enslaved by Leffert Waldron of Three Mile Run and Jack was enslaved by Ernestus Van Harlingen of Millstone. Two days later, the enslavers submitted a runaway ad to the New-York Journal newspaper, jointly offering a reward for Ben and Jack. ----- Transcript of the source document: "June 12, 1769 Run-away on Saturday the 10th of this Instant, from Leffert Waldron, at the 3 Mile Run, near New Brunswick, a yellowish Negro, named Ben, about 19 years old, about 5 feet 2 inches high, bushy Hair, speaks both low Dutch and English: Had on when he went away, a brown homespun Coat, with white Metal buttons, new homespun breeches, Felt Hat and sundry other Clothes. Also, at the same time, run away, a Negro Fellow, from Ernestus Van Harlingen, at Millstone, in the County of Somersett, at the Court-House, named Jack, about 21 years old, about 5 feet 9 inches high, well built, also yellowish, speaks both Dutch and English: Had on when he went away, a blue coat, brown jacket, half worn Leather Breeches and Felt Hat. Whoever will take up said Negroes and secure them so that their Masters may have them again, shall have Six Dollars reward if taken within the Province and Seven Dollars if taken without the Province, or half for each, paid by us. Leffert Waldron and Ernestus Van Harlingen."
  • 1770-03 Freedom seeking: Silas
    In March 1770, a young Black man named Silas ran away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats, a brickmaker in Philadelphia. On April 19, 1770, Isaac Coats posted a runaway ad for Silas, noting that Silas had been absent for about four weeks and was seen in Burlington, New Jersey, where he was part of a group of Black chimney sweeps who worked in the city. This was one of many escape attempts that Silas made from Isaac Coats. Following the publication of this runaway ad, Silas was apprehended, and he would go on to run away again in August of the same year. ----- Transcript of the source document: "RUN-AWAY, About four weeks since, from the subscriber, living in Vine street; A Negro Lad, about the age of seventeen years, named Silas, he is of a yellow cast, and by trade a chimney sweep; he is well set, about five feet high, was lately seen loitering about the streets of the city of Burlington, in company with several negro lads, also chimney sweeps; Had on a homespun jacket, a pair of blue trowsers with his blanket, and is an oily tongu'd chap very apt to drink. Whoever will secure the said fellow, and send him to me, shall receive a reward of FIFTEEN SHILLINGS, and all reasonable charges. April 19. ISAAC COATS, Brickmaker."
  • 1770-05 Capture: Silas
    A young Black man named Silas was apprehended after running away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats of Philadelphia. He originally ran away in March 1770, and he was still at large four weeks later when his enslaver published a runaway ad on April 19, 1770. He was captured sometime after this date and before August 1770 (when he would make another escape attempt). Silas was seen in Burlington, New Jersey, where he worked as a chimney sweep and kept company with several other Black men who were also engaged in that trade. He was probably apprehended there in Burlington, although the location where he was captured has not been definitively confirmed.
  • 1770-08 Freedom seeking: Silas
    Around August 1770, Silas (called Sy for short) ran away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats, a brickmaker in Philadelphia. On August 23, 1770, Isaac Coats posted a runaway ad for Silas, offering a reward for his capture and noting that Silas was skilled as a chimney sweep. This was one of many escape attempts that Silas made from Isaac Coats. Where he went in August 1770 is uncertain, but he may have gone to New Jersey because, during his other escape attempts, he was seen multiple times in Burlington, where he worked as a chimney sweep and had a group of friends who were in that trade. Following the publication of this runaway ad, Silas was apprehended, and he would go on to run away again in January of the next year. ----- Transcript of the source document: "RUN AWAY from the subscriber, living in Vine street, a Negro boy, named SY, of a yellow cast, about 5 feet high, well set and active, chews tobacco, and loves strong drink; Had on when he went away, a tow shirt and trowsers, and a blue woollen cap; he has been a chimney sweep, and it's very likely he may take up that trade again. Whoever takes up and secures said Negro, so that his master may have him again, shall have TWO DOLLARS reward, and reasonable charges, paid by ISAAC COATS brickmaker, in Vine-street. August 23."
  • 1770-09 Capture: Silas
    Following his escape from enslaver Isaac Coats in August of 1770, a young Black man named Silas (called Sy for short) was once again apprehended and brought back to Philadelphia. This was one of several escape attempts that ended in capture for Silas. The exact date and location of this capture event is uncertain. It took place sometime in the fall of 1770, or possibly early winter. Little is known about his whereabouts during this particular escape attempt, but we know that his previous and subsequent escapes took him to New Jersey, particularly to Burlington, where he worked as a chimney sweep. Whether he was apprehended in Burlington this time is not known.
  • 1771-01-29 Freedom seeking: Silas
    On January 29, 1771, a young Black man named Silas once again ran away from his enslaver Isaac Coats, a brickmaker living in Philadelphia on Vine Street. Silas went to New Jersey and was seen in the area of Burlington within days of his escape. His enslaver also suspected that he would go towards Princeton because, evidently, Silas knew the road to Princeton and had been there before. Isaac Coats placed a runaway advertisement for Silas offering a reward of two dollars, which was originally printed in the Philadelphia Journal newspaper on February 7, 1771, and which is transcribed below. The ad printed the runaway's name as "Say"; this may be a typographical error intended to be "Sy" as Silas was frequently called in other sources. Subsequent sources reveal that Silas managed to evade capture in New Jersey for at least two months before he was apprehended and brought back to Philadelphia. See related events for details about Silas's movements and his many escape attempts. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TWO DOLLARS Reward. RUN-AWAY, on the 29th of January last from the subscriber, living in Vine-Street, a Negro Boy named Say, of a yellow cast about 16 years of age, 5 Feet high, this country born, by trade a Chimney Sweeper; chews Tobacco, and loves Rum. He was seen last Saturday in Burlington and very like he may go towards Princeton as he has been that road before. Whoever takes up the above described Negro boy and secures him so that his Master may have him again, shall have the above Reward and all reasonable Charges paid by me ISAAC COATS."
  • 1771-02-09 Freedom seeking: Silas
    On or about February 9, 1771, a young Black freedom seeker named Silas (called Sy for short) was seen at the house of Richard Tennent, an innkeeper in Trenton. Information about Silas's whereabouts in New Jersey comes from an updated runaway notice that his enslaver Isaac Coats submitted to the Pennsylvania Journal on March 7, 1771. A transcript of this ad is below. Silas was a fugitive from slavery who had run away from Isaac Coats in January 1771 and went to New Jersey. Isaac Collins originally posted a $2 reward for Silas; and then on March 7, 1771, he posted a follow-up runaway notice providing more details about Silas and increasing the reward to $6. Note that this was one of many escape attempts that Silas made from Isaac Coats. Between January and March 1771, various people in New Jersey reported to Isaac Coats that they saw Silas there. Silas used his skills as a chimney sweep to make a living in New Jersey for several weeks. He was seen in Burlington and then went to Trenton where he encountered (and possibly worked for) Richard Tennent, the innkeeper. Although Isaac Coats originally suspected that Silas would go to Princeton, the March 7 runaway ad does not mention that he was seen in Princeton, although it does say that he was seen "in other places in the Jerseys" and this may include Princeton. The March 7 ad reported that Silas had with him forged paperwork that said he was a free-born man. He allegedly set out to New York by way of New Brunswick. ----- Transcript of the source document: "SIX DOLLARS REWARD. SY, a Negro slave, of a yellow or copper-coloured complexion, having been RUN AWAY from the subscriber his master, in Philadelphia, for about eight weeks past, part of which time he has been sweeping chimneys or lurking about Burlington, and since in other places in the Jerseys, and was at Trenton at the house of Richard Tennent, inn-keeper, on or about the 9th or 10th of last month, from whence he proceeded on towards New-York, and said he would go through New-Brunswick, having with him a forged pass setting forth his being born free, and at present a freeman: THEREFORE the above reward shall be paid to any person or persons that will secure the said slave in any of his Majesty's gaols, or otherwise send him to his master in Philadelphia, together with reasonable charges. All persons are forbid to harbour the said slave, masters of vessels and others are forwarned not to take him away, as they will suffer the same according to law. ISAAC COATS, Brick-maker, March 7. § Living in Vine-street, Philadelphia."
  • 1771-04 Capture: Silas
    Following his escape from enslaver Isaac Coats, a young Black man named Silas was once again apprehended and returned to Philadelphia. Silas ran away from Philadelphia on January 29, 1771, and he remained at large for at least two months in New Jersey. He was captured sometime between the end of March and the end of June 1771. The exact location of Silas's capture is uncertain. He was most likely apprehended in New Jersey (where he was seen for several weeks working as a chimney sweep in the vicinity of Burlington and Trenton) or in New York (where he was reportedly planning to go by way of New Brunswick after he obtained false freedom papers). This was one of the many events in the cycle of escapes and captures that Silas experienced as he relentlessly sought to free himself from bondage. This was at least the fourth time that Silas ran away and was captured. After Silas was apprehended in the spring or summer of 1771, he was forced to wear an iron collar, which he would continue wearing all the time after his return to Philadelphia. See related events for additional information about Silas and his escape attempts.
  • 1771-05 Freedom seeking: Peter
    A Black man named Peter ran away from his enslaver Patrick Simpson, who had a plantation on Edisto Island in South Carolina. Peter escaped around May 1771 and was still at large a year later. It appears that Peter's enslaver believed that Peter may have gone to Pennsylvania or New Jersey. A New York merchant firm called Hallett and Hazard placed a runaway advertisement in a Philadelphia newspaper on behalf of the enslaver offering a reward of $10 for Peter's capture in any jail in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. A man named Peter Gordon served as the a contact point for the enslaver in Princeton and another man named Peter Wikoff served as a contact point in Philadelphia. ----- Transcript of the source document: "New-York, May 11th, 1772. Ten Dollars Reward. Runaway from the plantation of Mr. Patrick Simpson, on Edisto, near Charles-Town, in South-Carolina, a Negro Man, named Peter, of a yellow complexion, middle aged, and about five feet seven inches high. Had on when he run away, which was near twelve months ago, a green pea jacket, and check shirt: He is a sensible, plausible fellow, and talks very proper English. Whoever will apprehend said negro, and secure him in any goal in Pennsylbania or New-Jersey, and give notice thereof to Mr. Peter Wikoff in Philadelphia, or Mr. Peter Gordon in Princeton, shall be paid the above reward and all reasonable charged by Hallett and Hazard."
  • 1771-06-24 Freedom seeking: Silas
    On Monday morning, June 24, 1771, Silas (a young Black man aged about 16 years) ran away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats (a brickmaker who lived on Vine Street in Philadelphia). At the time of his escape, Silas was wearing an iron collar around his neck. This shackle marked him as a slave and a fugitive, and he attempted to hide it under a jacket with a high collar. This iron collar was placed on Silas after he had made several escape attempts. (During his prior escapes, Silas had lived in New Jersey and passed as a free man before he was apprehended and brought back to Philadelphia in shackles.) The enslaver Isaac Coats posted a runaway ad offering a reward of $2 on June 27, 1771, but the ad did not actually list the name of the runaway. However, we are able to connect this ad to Silas (also called Sy for short) because the description matches six other runaway ads where Isaac Coats provided more details about him. Whether Silas attempted to go to New Jersey this time is unknown. He was eventually apprehended again. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TWO DOLLARS REWARD. RUN AWAY last Monday morning, from ISAAC COATS, a Negro Slave, of a yellow or copper-coloured complexion, 16 years old, 5 feet high, well set, this country born, chews tobacco, and loves strong liquor; had on when he went away an iron collar, which he endeavors to hide with a striped lincey jacket, tow shirt and trowsers; He has been seen lurking about town. Whoever secures the said negro, so that his master may have him again, shall have the above reward, and all reasonable charges. ISAAC COATS, Brick-maker, in Vine-Street, Philadelphia. N.B. All persons are forbid to harbour him, and masters of vessels and others are forewarned not to carry him off at their peril. § June 27."
  • 1771-07 Capture: Silas
    A young Black man named Silas (called Sy for short) was apprehended after running away from his enslaver, Isaac Coats, of Philadelphia. He had run away in June 1771 and was apprehended sometime before January 1772. The exact date and place of his capture are uncertain, but we know that Silas was captured because later historical records place him again at Isaac Coats's home in Philadelphia. This was one of the many events in the cycle of escapes and captures that Silas experienced as he relentlessly sought to free himself from bondage. See related events for additional information about Silas and his escape attempts.
  • 1772 Autobiography: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
    Ukawsaw Gronniosaw published his autobiography in approximately 1772 in England where he lived by this time as a free man. In his book, he recounted the details of his life, including his years in slavery in the Raritan River Valley in New Jersey. The title of the book is: A Narrative of the Most Remarkable Particulars in the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African Prince, As related by Himself. This is one of the earliest autobiographies published by a formerly enslaved person.
  • 1772-01-13 Freedom seeking: Silas
    On January 13, 1772, a young Black man named Silas (or Sy) ran away from his enslaver Isaac Coats, a brickmaker in Philadelphia. At the time of his escape, Silas was wearing an iron collar around his neck. This shackle marked him as a slave and a fugitive, and he attempted to hide it under a jacket with a high collar. Silas was forced to start wearing this iron shackle in 1771 after he had made several escape attempts. During his prior escapes, Silas had lived in New Jersey and passed as a free man before he was apprehended and brought back to Philadelphia in shackles. Whether Silas attempted to go to New Jersey this time is unknown. This is the last of seven runaway ads related to Silas found in the Philadelphia Journal newspaper. His fate after this event is uncertain. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Run away, on the 13th Instant. A Negro LAD, about 17 years of age, named SY, about 5 feet high, of a yellow cast, well-set, this country born, a smooth tongued chap; he used to follow chimney sweeping, and I hear he has taken to that employ again: He had on when he went away, an old ozenbrigs shirt; a new light coloured broadcloth jacket, lined with red baize, with one pocket; a pair of brown woolen trowsers; good stockings and shoes, with an iron collar about his neck, which he endeavours to hide by something rapped around it, and covered with an old light coloured great-coat. Whosoever takes up the above described Negro, shall have TWO DOLLARS reward, and all reasonable charges, paid by me ISAAC COATS, Brick-maker, in Philadelphia. N.B. All persons are hereby forewarned not to barbour him at their peril. January 23."
  • 1774 Freedom seeking: Costant
    In 1774, a Black man named Costant ran away from his enslaver John Williams Sanders, near Princeton, New Jersey. Costant was 26 years old and accustomed to working as a domestic servant. The enslaver supposed that Costant had a forged pass and planned to go to New York or Philadelphia to board a ship bound for the West Indies. Sanders published a runaway ad offering a reward for Costant's return and warning shipmasters not take Costant on board. The enslaver listed multiple associates in Philadelphia, New York, and Elizabethtown who were ready to assist him in apprehending Costant. The exact date of Costant's escape is uncertain. It occurred before November 7, 1774, when the runaway ad appeared in the paper. ----- Transcript of the source document: "EIGHT DOLLARS Reward. RUN-away from the subscriber, living near Princeton in New-Jersey, a negro man named COSTANT, about the age of twenty-six; he is a well-built, likely, black, active, sensible fellow, and has been accustomed to attend a gentleman : Had on, and took with him the following cloaths, viz. Two brown broad cloth coats, one of them too large and long for him, with silver plated buttons, the other very short, with plain buttons ; a blue surtout coat ; one brown holland and one fustian short coat ; one pair of fustian, and one ditto of leather breeches; one pair of striped, and one ditto of check trowsers. one fustian, one striped gingham, and two white waist-coats; one pair of old boots : a pair of new and a pair of old shoes, with a pair of neat pinchbeck buckles ; one or two old beaver hats, cut in the fashion; two white and three check shirts, with sundry other things. Whoever takes up and secures said negro in any of his Majesty's goals, so that his master may get him again, shall receive the above reward, with all reasonable charges, by applying to the subscriber, near Princeton, to Dr. Samuel Duffield at Philadelphia, to Mr. Lloyd Daubney at New-York, or to Dr. Bates Williams Peterson, near Elizabeth-Town. JOHN WILLIAMS SANDERS N.B. It is imagined he may have a forged pass, and go towards New-York or Philadelphia, with a view of procuring a passage to the West-Indies, from whence he came ; therefore all master of vessels or others, are forewarned not to take him off, or any ways harbour him at their peril. He is learning to play on, and is very fond of the fiddle."
  • 1774-09-19 Freedom seeking: Peet
    On September 19, 1774, a 27-year-old Black man named Peet ran away from his enslaver Aaron Longstreet Jr of Princeton, NJ. He evaded capture until at least November 8, when his enslaver submitted a runaway ad for Peet to a New York newspaper. The ad appeared in the newspaper, called the New-York Gazette, and the Weekly Mercury, for a month and a half until December 26, 1774. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Princeton, November 8th, 1774. FOUR DOLLARS Reward. RAN away from the subscriber, on Monday the 19th of September last, a Negro man named PEET, about 27 years of age, 5 feet 6 inches high, yellow complexion; he has a large scar on one side of his neck, and another on his head, occasioned by a cut with a knife: Had on and took with him a brown broadcloth coat and waist coat, tow trowsers, a red great coat, a pair of drilling breeches, and a fustian coat and waistcoat. Whoever takes up said Negro, and secures him in any of his Majesty’s goals so that his master may have him again, shall receive the above reward, and all reasonable charges paid by AARON LONGSTREET, jun."
  • 1775-01-30 Advertisement: Black man, 1st Black boy, 2nd Black boy
    On January 30, 1775, enslaver Richard Paterson advertised the sale of a Black man and two boys, along with the sale of several real estate properties in Princeton, NJ. Richard Paterson (the father of famous New Jersey statesman William Paterson) was a merchant who maintained a general store in Princeton since the 1750s. In 1775 he decided to close his business, which is what precipitated the sale. No identifying information or ages were listed in the sale ad for the man and the two boys. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TO BE SOLD, By the subscriber, at private sale, the following houses and lots of land, in Princeton, in the Province of New-Jersey. The house the subscriber now lives in, built of stone, and two stories high, in length 53 feet, and 30 in breadth; there are on the first floor five rooms, with a fire place in every room, one of which was formed for a store, and is excellently adapted for that purpose, being 18 feet in front, and 30 feet in depth. The second floor contains six rooms, with fire places in three of them. A commodious cellar runs under the greater part of the building, and a large convenient garret over the whole. This house may easily be converted into two distinct tenements. A kitchen 22 feet long and 16 wide; a negro-house, a well, a garden, and convenient yard. A barn, a stable, and a chair-house under one roof, 50 feet long and 20 wide, fixed on stone pedestals, and covered and inclosed with cedar. A brick house, two stories high, two rooms on the first floor, and three on the second; a good garret, and a cellar-kitchen, that extends under the whole house. To this belongs a lot containing one acre of land. A small frame house, with a well and garden. Forty-eight acres of good, cleared, and well improved land adjoining the said town. The land is divided into four fields, in proper sense; 12 acres of which is meadow, yielding yearly about 12 tons of hay, chiefly lover and spear-grass. The rest of the land is equally good for pasture or tillage. A constant stream of water runs through the meadow-ground, which may, at little expence, be so turned, as to wash and fertilize every part of it. Little need be said of a village so well known as Princeton, situated about mid-way between the cities of New-York and Philadelphia, and in the heart of a fertile thriving country, its advantages in point of trade must necessarily be many and great. This cannot fail of recommending it to traders. Nor is it less inviting to persons fond of an elegant retreat, or of having their children pass through a course of education under their own immediate care and inspection. Princeton is seated on a beautiful eminence, commanding an extensive prospect, and so remarkably healthful, that several gentlemen, perhaps on that account chiefly, have made choice of it as the place of their abode. Surrounded too by an agreeable set of neighbours, it has every requisite to render retirement easy and delightful. The stone house already described, consisting of several apartments, and being within an hundred years of the college, would suit extremely a person disposed to let lodgings and take in boarders. The purchaser of the whole, or of any part of the premises, must pay down one half of the purchase money; for the other half easy payments will be given. The title is unquestionable. The subscriber hath for sale, an assortment of DRY GOODS, which he will dispose of at a low rate for cash, country produce, or short credit. Also a Negro man and two Negro boys. The subscriber requests all persons indebted to him on bond, note, or book account, to make immediate payment. He is desirous of quitting business, and closing his affairs. To pay those to whom he is indebted, it is necessary that those should first pay who are indebted to him. RICHARD PATERSON."
  • 1775-09-28 Death: Ukawsaw Gronniosaw
    Ukawsaw Gronniosaw died on September 28, 1775, several years after publishing his autobiography where he recounted his life in slavery in the home of the Rev. Theodorus Jacobs Frelinghuysen in the Raritan River Valley in New Jersey. Gronniosaw was approximately 65 to 70 years old when he died. The following is the complete text of Gronniosaw's obituary published on October 2, 1775, in the newspaper called Chester Chronicle, or, Commercial Intelligencer: "On Thursday died, in this city, aged 70, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, an African prince, of Zoara. He left the country in the early part of his life, with a view to acquire proper notions of the Divine Being, and the worship due to Him. He met with many trials and embarrassments, was much afflicted and persecuted. His last moments exhibited that cheerful serenity which, at such a time, is the certain effect of a thorough conviction of the great truths of Christianity. He published a narrative of his life."
  • 1776 Capture: Harry
    A receipt found in the Van Dike Family Papers, 1711–1838 (MC 505), notes that a Black man named Harry, who was enslaved by Jacob Van Dike, had been "carried off by the followers of the British army" in 1776. The circumstances of this event are uncertain, and it is unclear whether Harry was taken by the Loyalists against his will or went with them willingly to escape from his enslaver. It appears that Harry was then with the British troops for several years before he was captured and returned to his enslaver. The exact location of this 1776 event is uncertain, but it probably took place around Ten Mile Run or Rocky Hill; this is the area where Jacob Van Dike lived in the 18th century.
  • 1777-11-30 Sale: Unnamed Black man captured from the enemy [Neilson]
    On November 30, 1777, Thomas Bullman issued a receipt to Colonel John Neilson (1745-1833) for 55 pounds for the sale of an enslaved Black man at public auction. The name of this Black man was not recorded on the receipt, but the document mentioned that the man was "taken from the enemy" and then sold at public vendue (i.e. auction). The receipt was issued in Elizabethtown. Neilson probably became the man's new legal owner; however, the receipt does not clarify whether Neilson purchased the man for himself or for someone else. Other archival documents from the Revolutionary War era in the Neilson Family Papers indicate that John Neilson bought and sold enslaved people during the war for himself and for others. This document was issued during the Revolutionary War, and the Black man mentioned had been captured by the New Jersey militia from the enemy, i.e. from a Loyalist enslaver. During the war, the New Jersey militia routinely captured enslaved men and women who belonged to Loyalist enslavers in New York and New Jersey. The Patriots typically sold these enslaved persons to the highest bidder at a public auction to raise money for the war effort. --- The following is a full transcript of the receipt: [FRONT] Elizh Town } 
Novr 30th 1777 } Receiv’d of Col John Neilson Fifty-five Pounds for a negro Man taken from the the Enemy & Sold Of Publick Vendue this Day — 
Thos. Bullman
 
Rec-d 30th Novr. 1777 of Col Neilson Four pounds four Shillings for 2 Handkerchiefs. bougt. at Vendue by Col Runyon 
Thos. Bullman
 [BACK] 
Bullman paid 
For Negro & handfs
 30 Nov 1777
  • 1777-12-06 Mention: Unnamed Black man [Hardenbergh]
    Rev. Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh (1736-1790), first president of Queen's College (later Rutgers), mentioned a Black man in a letter to his father Col. Johannes Hardenbergh (1706-1786) written on December 6, 1777. The letter was sent from Hardenbergh's parsonage in Raritan (present-day Somerville), and was likely sent to Rosendale, NY, where his father lived. Written in Dutch, the letter states "Schrijve dese wynige in haast, wijl de neger gereet maakt om af te gaan." The English translation is: "Writing these words in a hurry while the negro is getting ready to leave." These words most likely refer to an enslaved Black man who was working at Hardenbergh's parsonage at this time; the man's name is not recorded.
  • 1778-08-20 Freedom seeking: Prime
    On August 20th, 1778, Prime ran away from his enslaver, the Loyalist surgeon Absalom Bainbridge, who was at that time residing in Flatbush, Kings County, New York. Following his escape, Prime returned to Princeton, New Jersey, where he had previously resided with the Bainbridge family. He went on to work for the American troops and would eventually gain freedom for his service in the Revolutionary War. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Two Guineas Reward. RUN away from the subscriber the 20th instant, a Mulatto Negro Boy, named PRIME, 23 years old, about five feet five or six inches high, his hair of a remarkable light colored woolly kind. Whoever secures said Boy: and will inform, or deliver him to the subscriber at Flatbush, Long-Island, or to Mr. John Taylor, in Queen Street, No. 15, shall be entitled to the above reward. All matters of vessels and inhabitants are forewarned to carry him off, or conceal him, as they ill answer to the consequences. A. BAINBRIDGE, Surgeon, N.J.V. "
  • 1780-05-20 Freedom seeking: Michael Hoy
    On the night of May 20, 1780, during the Revolutionary War, a Black man named Michael Hoy escaped from his enslaver Colonel George Morgan. Hoy was in his 40s. He escaped from Morgan's estate called the Prospect Farm, which was adjacent to Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey) and which is now part of the Princeton campus. Michael Hoy took a horse from his enslaver, and Morgan supposed that Hoy was acting as an informant and carrying letters or intelligence to the British troops in New York. Morgan also believed that Michael Hoy was traveling with a white accomplice and that they also stole a second horse from the "Rev. Mr. Smith" of Princeton, which appears to refer to Princeton professor (and later president) Samuel Stanhope Smith. Morgan and Smith posted rewards for the return of Michael Hoy and the two stolen horses. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Princeton, May 23, 1780. A MULATTO SLAVE, who it is supposed has been seduced to undertake to carry letters or intelligence into New-York, ran away from the subscriber, and took off with him a dark bay horse, 6 years old, 14 and an half hands high, with two white feet and a blaze, and is a natural trotter. The Slave is near 6 feet high, strong and well made; had on, and took with him, a variety of cloaths, but those he will most probably wear are, a suit of super fine mixt broad cloth, a new great coat, white stockings, half boots, a black velvet frock and a beaver hat, but little worn. He appears to be 40 odd years of age, speaks good English, reads and writes a tolerable hand, and is a decent and well-behaved ingenious fellow, capable of a variety of works. His name is Michael Hoy, but may go by some other, and it is probable he may travel as a servant to a white man who is supposed to have gone off with him; and as such may change his dress. He went off in the night of the 20th instant. Five Hundred Dollars will be given, and all charges paid for securing the slave and the horse, or Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars for either, paid by GEORGE MORGAN. P.S. A deep blood bay mare, with a black mane and tail, was stolen the same night the above mentioned slave went off, supposed by him or his accomplice. She has a short dock and a lump, that looks like a wind gall or small wen, on the hindermost part of one of her thighs. She is half blooded, pretty old, trots, and is with foal. Six Hundred Dollars will be paid by the Rev. Mr. Smith of this town, to the person who shall return the mare and convict the thief, or Three Hundred Dollars for the mare alone. "
  • 1780-11-12 Freedom seeking: Caesar
    Caesar, aged 25, ran away from his enslaver, John Denton of Princeton, New Jersey, and an ad was placed for his capture with a $1000 reward. In the ad, John Denton also mentioned his suspicions that Caesar received assistance or was "advised to go away" and that a man named Mr. Cubberly of Staten Island had some knowledge of the situation. John Denton offered additional rewards to persons who would provide information leading to the conviction of any persons who helped Caesar go away. The same ad provides information about various goods and cattle that Denton had for sale. ----- Transcript of the source document: "One Thousand Dollars Reward. RAN AWAY, From the subscriber, in Princeton, on Sunday evening the 12th instant; A NEGRO MAN, named Ceasar, about twenty-five years of age, about five feet eight inches high, marked with the small-pox ; had on a blue camblet coat worn out at the elbows, a pair of new buckskin breeches, straps without kneebuckles, old pumps with a hole in one of the toes or a new patch, a small felt hat lopt. Whoever apprehends the said Negro and delivers him to me, shall have the above reward, paid by JOHN DENTON. Princeton, Nov. 14, 1780 P.S. There is good reason to believe that he has been advised to go away, any substantial evidence who will discover the fact (if the plot be by a white person) on full conviction, shall have a reward of Six Thousand Dollars ; if a black person, Five Hundred. As it is more than probable that there is more people goes to market to Staten-Island than ought ; but if any person going there will please to call on Mr. Cubberly and enquire of his negro man Caesar who it was that advised him to leave his master, and make a sufficient discovery whereby the subscriber may receive sufficient damage, shall have Ten Guineas or the exchange thereof in Continental money. The subscriber has for sale, bar-iron, rock & shore salt, spelling-books and almanacks by the gross or a dozen as low as at Philadelphia, and sundry other kinds of merchandize. Also two yoke of fat oxen, with some other fat cattle, to be sold at publick vendue on Saturday the 18th instant, between the hours of eight and twelve o’clock in the forenoon, to ready money only ; or at private sale, as may best fit the purchaser. Hard money will be most agreeable—and no person to have the cattle to take them out of the state. J.D."
  • 1780-11-20 Advertisement: Black boy aged 11
    Samuel Stanhope Smith (professor and later president of Princeton University) advertised an 11-year-old Black boy for sale in a Trenton newspaper. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TO BE SOLD, A LIKELY NEGRO BOY, between eleven and twelve years old. Inquire of S.S. SMITH. Princeton, Nov. 20, 1780. "
  • 1780-12-11 Advertisement: Unnamed Black man, woman, and child [Bray]
    In December 1780, John Bray of Raritan Landing, NJ, placed an advertisement in the Trenton newspaper New-Jersey Gazette seeking to sell a 32-year-old Black man, his 24-year-old wife, and their 15-month old child. Bray stated that he would prefer "to sell them together" but that "a few miles separation will not prevent the sale." Thus the family may have been separated as a result of this proposed sale. The following is a complete transcript of the advertisement as it appeared in the December 20, 1780, issue of the newspaper: "To be SOLD cheap, By the Subscriber, A NEGRO MAN about thirty-two-years of age, a negro woman about twenty-four, with a child of fifteen months, not for any fault, but want of employ. They being man and wife would make it most agreeable to sell them together; however a few miles separation will not prevent the sale. Any person inclining to purchase will receive satisfactory accounts of their characters by applying to JOHN BRAY. Raritan Landing, Dec. 11, 1780."
  • 1781-01-10 Advertisement: Black girl
    In January 1781, Thomas Wilson advertised for the sale of a 17-year-old Black girl in Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TO BE SOLD, A LIKELY NEGRO WENCH, about 17 years of age. Enquire of the subscriber at Princeton. THOMAS WIGGINS. "
  • 1781-12-15 Jailing: Henry Heywood
    On December 15, 1781, a Black man named Henry Heywood was picked up and detained by the Princeton constable John Totten as a potential runaway. Heywood maintained that he was a free man from Maryland and that he had been with the British troops (specifically with soldier or loyalist Mr. Reyley) when the British surrendered at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia (the final battle of the Revolutionary War in October 1781). The constable published an ad notifying the public that Heywood would be held as a runaway for six weeks. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Taken up as a Run Away, On the 15th December inst. A NEGRO MAN, who calls himself Henry Heywood, and says is a freeman, and lived with a certain Mr. Reyley, who was with the British army at York in Virginia, was there taken at the surrender of that place; and came away with Continental troops. He is a black fellow, marked with the small-pox, about five feet nine inches high, had on a blue coat lined with red, linen drawers, an old felt hat ; says he formerly lived in Maryland. He seems to understand house work best, and is very handy at that. The owner, if any he hath, is desired to come, pay charges, and take him away, within the space of six weeks, otherwise he will be discharged according to law, by JOHN TOTTEN, Constable Princeton, New-Jersey, Dec. 25, 1781."
  • 1782 Capture: Harry
    On June 17, 1782, enslaver Jacob Van Dike paid 8 pounds and 9 shillings proclamation money of New Jersey for the capture and return of a Black man named Harry. The men who captured and returned Harry were James Dunn, Joseph Thickstun, and David Dunham. The three of them issued a receipt to Jacob Van Dike for the money they received. The receipt mentioned that Harry had been "carried off by the followers of the British army" in 1776 and that he was lately "apprehended with a detachment of the British army." Evidently, Harry was with the British troops for several years from 1776 to 1782. It is unclear whether Harry was taken by the Loyalists against his will or left with them willingly to escape from his enslaver. The exact location where Harry was captured is uncertain, and no location is listed on the receipt. Harry's enslaver Jacob Van Dike lived around the area of Ten Mile Run and Rocky Hill.
  • 1782-03 Freedom seeking: Jack
    On March 9, 1782, James Parker wrote a letter to be advertised in the New Jersey Gazette noting that Jack, an enslaved man about thirty-five years old, had run away from Parker. Parker offered three pounds to anyone who could bring Jack back to him. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Run Away a Negro Man named Jack, about thirty-five years old, straight and well-limbed and about five feet ten inches high, very white even teeth, has holes in his ears understands the coopers trade and can talk French; had on a striped woolen shirt, a clothcolored jacket and waistcoat much worn and patched, a pair of buckskin breeches almost new and stained in the seat by riding bareback, grey stockings and shoes newly soaled took with him a homespun coat, buttons covered with same and lined with blue, a jacket and breeches of homespun dimity a white linen shirt and pair of new shoes. Whoever apprehends the said Negro and delivers him to the subscriber or secures him in any gaol so that he may be had again, shall be paid three Pounds and reasonable charges by James Parker. Pitts Down, Hunterdon County, March 9, 1782."
  • 1784-03-25 Advertisement: Black man aged 25
    Samuel Stanhope Smith (professor and later president of Princeton University) placed a slave sale advertisement in a Trenton newspaper. Smith sought to sell a 25-year-old Black man who was trained as a farmer and to acquire instead a new enslaved worker to perform domestic labor in Smith's home in Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TO BE SOLD, Or exchanged for a servant accustomed to cooking and waiting in a genteel family, A NEGRO SERVANT, About 25 years of age, who is well acquainted with the business of a plantation, and used to taking care of horses. Enquire of the Printer, or of the subscriber in Princeton. SAMUEL S. SMITH March 25, 1784."
  • 1785-12-01 Will (of Israel Read): Tony, Isabel, Jean
    The will of the Rev. Israel Read (pastor of the Bound Brook Presbyterian Church) was written on December 1, 1785, in Piscataway, NJ. Israel Read died 8 years later in 1793, and the will was proved on February 8, 1794, at Somerset. The will mentions several enslaved persons by name, including Toone (referred to as Tony in other archival documents), Isabel, and Jean. Note that Jean was described as an old woman and was granted "her freedom" in the will. Whether Jean was still alive in 1794 and whether she attained freedom is uncertain. New Jersey law prohibited enslavers from officially manumitting elderly Black persons lest they become a public charge. The executors of Read's estate could not have legally manumitted Jean after the pastor's death, although unofficial arrangements for her senior years could have been made in accordance with Read's wishes. The following is a copy of the will abstract as published in the Calendar of Wills, Vol. 8, 1791-1795: "1785, Dec. 1. Read, Rev. Israel, of Piscataway, Middlesex Co.; will of. Son, Thomas, one silver pint mug, 5 silver table spoons and 4 1/2 of residue of personal property. Son, Archibald, one silver server, one silver sugar cup and the other 1/2 of residue of personal property. Daughter, Mary, negro girl named Isabel, 2 feather beds, one silver teapot, 2 silver canasters, one silver cream pot, 6 silver tea spoons, all china and other household furniture; also the annual interest in the widow’s fund in Philadelphia, while single. Library to be sold and divided between the 2 sons. Lands in Somerset Co. and other realty to be sold and proceeds divided between the 3 children. Old negro wench, Jean, her freedom. Negro man, Toone, to be kept by sons. Executors—friends, Dr. Moses Scott and Matthias Baker, Esq. Witnesses—David Kelly, Anthony Cosad, Aaron Coon. Proved Feb. 8, 1794, at Somerset. 1794, Feb. 7. Inventory, £304.9.8; made by Abraham Staats and James Van Duyn. Lib. 33, p. 442; File 948R."
  • 1786 Transfer: Cato
    A runaway ad for Cato, published in 1794 by enslaver William M'Kissick of Pluckemin, Somerset County, noted that Cato "formerly belonged to the late Col. Philip Van-Horne, near Middle-Brook." Thus we can infer that Cato was sold or otherwise transferred from Philip Van Horne (or from Van Horne's estate after his death in 1786) to William M'Kissick. The date of this event is approximate, and the sale or transfer may have occurred sometime before or after 1786.
  • 1787-01-31 Sale: Flora, Ann, Phillis Neilson
    Anthony L. Bleecker, a merchant in New York City, sells to John Neilson an enslaved woman named Flora and her two female children Phillis and Ann for 120 New York pounds. The Bill of Sale was signed by Anthony L. Bleecker on January 31, 1787 and was witnessed by Leon Bleecker and Jas. Bleecker. ----- Transcript of the source document: "KNOW all Men by these Presents, That I Anthony L. Bleecker of the City of New York, Merchant For and in Consideration of the Sum of One hundred & twenty pounds Current Money of the State of New York to me in Hand Paid, at and before the Ensealing and Delivery of these Presents, by John Neilson, Esqr the Receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge, and myself to be therewith fully satisfied, contented and paid: Have granted, bargained, sold, released; and by these Presents do fully, clearly and absolutely grant, bargain, sell and release unto the said John Neilson a certain negro Woman named Flora together with her two female children, one called Phillis, the other Ann To have and to hold said Flora & her two children unto the said John Neilson, his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, for ever. And I the said Anthony L. Bleecker for myself, my Heirs, Executors and Administrators, do covenant and agree to and with the above named John Neilson his Executors, Administrators and Assigns, to warrant and defend the Sale of the above named Negro Woman & her two children against all Persons whatsoever. In Witness whereof, I have hereunto set my Hand and Seal, this Thirty first Day of January Annoq. Dom. One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty seven. Anthony L. Bleecker Signed, Sealed, and Delivered, in the presence of } Leon Bleecker Jas. Bleecker"
  • 1787-10 Manumission: Bell, Lambert
    William Livingston manumitted Bell and her son Lambert in October 1787. The manumission took place in Elizabeth, NJ. Livingston, who increasingly embraced abolitionist ideas after the Revolution, noted that he made the decision to manumit Bell and Lambert due to his "regard for the natural liberties of mankind" and that he aimed to "set the example" for other enslavers in the hopes that his "voluntary manumission of Slaves, may have any influence on others." The following is a transcript of the Bill of Manumission signed by William Livingston in October 1787: "October [1 – 31] 1787 Know all Men by these presents that I William Livingston of the Borough of Elizabeth in the County of Essex & State of New Jersey, in consideration of my regard for the natural liberties of mankind, & in order to set the example as far as my voluntary manumission of Slaves, may have any influence on others have manumitted emancipated and set at Liberty & Do by these presents manumit emancipate & set at Liberty a certain Negro woman slave called Bell and also her male child called Lambert both born in my family in a state of slavery & do hereby release acquit & discharge the said Bell and her child from any services to me or my representatives as fully & effectually to the extent & purposes whatsoever as if they had been born first free. It witness thereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this [ ] day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred & eighty seven."
  • 1790-06-09 Birth: Robert
    Robert was born on June 9, 1790. His enslaver at the time of his birth was Elijah Pound, who was associated with Piscataway, NJ.
  • 1791-04-24 Freedom seeking: Harry
    On Easter day in 1791, Harry ran away from his enslaver Jeromus Rappleyea of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Harry was 24 and could speak English and Dutch. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Three Pounds Reward. Made his escape from the subscriber, living near New-Brunswick, on last Easter Day, A NEGRO MAN named HARRY, twenty-four years of age, five feet ten inches high, very black, remarkably thin, and has very large white eyes, had on when he went away, a wool hat half worn, a white red and purple striped vest, a short blue linsey coat unsulled, striped trousers, half worn shoes, speaks the Dutch and English languages, talks very slow. Whoever secures said negro, so that his master may get him again, shall have the above reward and reasonable charges. JEROMUS RAPPLEYEA New-Brunswick, May 16, 1791"
  • 1791-05-09 Advertisement: Black girl
    Mary Nevill of New Brunswick advertised the sale of a 14-year-old Black girl in 1791. ----- Transcript of the source document: "A WENCH FOR SALE, TO BE SOLD, A likely, active NEGRO GIRL, Of about fourteen years of age, Enquire of MARY NEVILL. New-Brunswick, May 9, 1791. 24I 3w"
  • 1791-05-20 Agreement: Robert
    On May 20, 1791, when Robert was near 1 years old, Elijah Pound of Middlesex County made a promise to manumit Robert upon the boy attaining age 21 (which was the legal minimum age to be eligible for manumission). Elijah Pound recorded this promise in the form of a deed of manumission, a copy of which appears in the Middlesex County Clerk's Book of Manumissions. According to the deed, Robert would attain age 21 on June 9, 1811. The document was witnessed by Esther Pound and Jean Runyon. This document was recorded by the County Clerk decades later when Robert was an adult. On November 3, 1812, Jean Fitz Randolph (late Jean Runyon), acknowledged the authenticity of the document before judge John Fitz Randolph, who notarized a copy of the document. Then, two years later, a copy of the deed was entered into the Book of Manumissions by Clerk William P. Deare on December 13, 1814, on page 161. The locality is not listed in the document related to Robert, but local history records show that the Pound family as well as the parties who witnessed and acknowledged the document are associated with Piscataway. The following is a transcript of the document as recorded by the Middlesex County Clerk: "I Elijah Pound of the County of Middlesex and State of New Jersey do hereby set free from Bondage my black boy named Robert when he shall arrive at twenty one years which will be on the ninth day of the sixth month Anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and eleven and do for my self my executors and administrators release unto the said black boy Robert all my right and all claim whatsoever as to his person or to any estate he may acquire hereby declaring the said black boy Robert absolutely free without any interruption from me or any person claiming under me. - In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twentieth day of the fifth month in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety one.- Sealed and delivered in the presence } of Esther Pound - Jean Runyon } Elijah Pound I Jane Randolph late Jane Runyon do solemnly declare and affirm that I saw Elijah Pound the grantor of this writing sine and seal this instrument and seal it for the yous and purpos therein contained. Done before me this third day of November 1812 John F. Randolph Justice } Jean Fitz Randolph"
  • 1791-05-30 Freedom seeking: Primus
    On May 30, 1791, a 26-year-old Black man named Primus ran away from his enslaver Gilbert Vancamp of Amwell, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Ten Dollars Reward. Ran away from the subscriber, in Hunterdon county, Amwell Township, near Flemingtown, on the 19th current, a Negro Man named Primus, about twenty-six years old, five feet ten inches high, pretty black, his front teeth somewhat defected, plays the fiddle and fife very well, he is a smart active fellow, very ready in his answers; had on a tow shirt and trowsers, a short jacket without sleeves, the front part brown linsey, backs black broadcloth lined with part of a striped blanket. Whoever takes said Negro and returns him to his master, or secures him and gives information, shall receive the above reward and reasonable charges paid by GILBERT VANCAMP. Amwell, May 30, 1791"
  • 1791-06-04 Freedom seeking: Jack
    On June 4, 1791, a Black man named Jack ran away from his enslaver Charity Miller of Stony Brook (present-day Princeton), New Jersey. Charity Miller submitted a runaway notice for Jack to a Philadelphia newspaper. The enslaver believed that Jack ran to Pennsylvania, but Jack's destination has not been confirmed. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Eight Dollars Reward. RANAWAY from the subscriber, near Princeton, New-Jersey, the 4th inst. a Negro man, named JACK, a stout hearty fellow, 28 or 30 years of age, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, rather of a light complexion, heavy eyes, and unpleasant countenance, fond of spiritous liquors, and when intoxicated somewhat impudent, and more unpleasant than usual. He took with him sundry unknown wearing apparel, and it is conjectured he hath gone into the state of Pennsylvania. Whoever, takes up said fellow, and returns him to his owner, shall receive the above award, and reasonable charges, paid by CHARITY MILLER. Stony Brook, June 16th, 1791. 8w"
  • 1792 Sale: Mary
    Mary, a young Black woman, was sold by John Carter of Rocky Hill to Francis Blaise of Princeton sometime before December 1793. The sale may have taken place shortly before that date or some years prior. The sale was mentioned by Blaise in a runaway ad that he published after Mary ran away.
  • 1792-04-09 Freedom seeking: Robin, Sam
    Two Black men, Robin and Sam, ran away from enslaver Alexander Robinson at Belment Farm, near Morristown, on Monday, April 9, 1792. Robin was 50 years old and Sam was younger, but Sam's precise age was not mentioned in the newspaper notice. On April 14, 1792, Alexander Robinson issued a runaway notice offering a reward of $10 for their capture. The following is a complete transcript of the runaway ad as published in the May 1, 1792, issue of the Brunswick Gazette: "Ten Dollars Reward. RUN away from the subscriber on Monday the 9th current, two negro men, the one called Robin and the other called Sam. Robin is an old man of 50 years and upwards, 5 feet 6 inches high, had on when he went away, a great coat of purple colour, and an old beaver hat, one of his thumbs quite sore.—The other called Sam, had on when he went away, a large blue coat, and a brown short coat with overalls of the same, much marked with small pox, his height is about 5 feet 9 inches. Whoever will bring them to the subscriber, living in Morris-Town, or secure them in any gaol shall have the above reward and all reasonable expenses. ALEXANDER ROBINSON Belment Farm April 14, 1792. 90"
  • 1792-04-24 Freedom seeking: Sam
    Sam, an 18-year-old Black man, ran away from enslaver James Stevenson of Amwell, Hunterdon County, on April 24, 1792. James Stevenson published a runaway ad offering a reward of $8 for Sam's capture. The ad provided a description of Sam's appearance, scars, and clothing. The following is a transcript of the ad: "Eight Dollars Reward. RAN away from the subscriber the 24th inst. a Negro Boy named Sam, eighteen years of age, five feet six or seven inches high, had on when he went away, a wool hat, sailor coat, waistcoat, and trowsers, all grey linsey, stript linsey shirt, grey stockings, old shoes, a remarkable scar on one of his legs; any person apprehending said negro and securing him so that his master may get him again, shall receive the above reward and all reasonable charges paid by me, JAMES STEVENSON. Amwell, Hunterdon County, April 27, 1792."
  • 1792-09-25 Freedom seeking: Will
    Will ran away from his enslaver James Fleming of Shrewsbury, NJ, on Tuesday, September 25, 1792. The following is a complete transcript of the runaway ad that James Fleming published on October 17, 1792, in the New Jersey Gazette: "TEN DOLLARS REWARD. Runaway from the subscriber, living in Monmouth county, township of Shrewsbury, on Tuesday the 25th ult. a negro man named WILL : Had on when he went away, a homespun gray coat and light blue vest, an old felt hat, and [undecipherable] trousers—he is about 28 years of age, and about five feet four inches high, and has a scar on his chin.—The above reward will be paid to any person who will apprehend said runaway, and secure him in any gaol, whereby his master may get him again. JAMES FLEMING. Shrewsbury township, Oct. 17, 1792 ¶ 6 3w"
  • 1792-10-15 Freedom seeking: Minn
    Minn, a 30-year-old black man, ran away from his enslaver Jacob Abel of Easton (Northampton County, Pennsylvania) on October 15, 1792. Minn may have gone to his father's home in Trenton. Jacob Abel posted a reward of $16 for Minn's capture in the Trenton newspaper New-Jersey State Gazette. The following is a complete transcript of the runaway ad as published in the November 7, 1792, issue of the New-Jersey State Gazette: "SIXTEEN DOLLARS REWARD. RANAWAY from his master at Easton, on Monday the 15th inst. a negro man named MINN, about 30 years of age, five feet ten inches high; had on when he went away, a long bottle green coat, spotted velvet vest, and striped nankeen trowsers, much given to spirituous liquors : said negro's father lives in Trenton, and it is supposed he has directed his course that way.—Whoever takes up above described runaway and will secure him in any gaol, so that the subscriber may get him again, shall be entitled to the above reward with the addition of reasonable charges. JACOB ABEL. Easton, Northampton, Oct. 24, 1792. ¶ 7 3w"
  • 1793 Sale: Jef
    Mr. Mattison of Princeton sold Jef to one Mr. Kelsey for the sum of 90 pounds when Jef was aged approximately 21 or younger. Subsequently, the sale was reversed and Jef was returned to Mattison's household at the request of Mr. Mattison's wife. The date of this sale event is unknown, but it occurred sometime before February 24, 1794, when Robert Finley of Princeton mentioned this situation in a letter to his friend Col. John Neilson of New Brunswick. Neilson had asked Finley about the possibility of purchasing Jef for 90 pounds. Finley wrote to Neilson about Jef: "He was once sold to Mr. Kelsey for the sum mentioned in your letter but taken back at the request of his present Mistress."
  • 1793-01-04 Freedom seeking: Sam
    A Black boy named Sam, aged 18 or 19, ran away from his enslaver Winant Winant of Staten Island (Richmond County), New York, on January 4, 1793. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Ten Dollars REWARD. RAN away from the subscriber on the 4th instant, a Negro Boy, named Sam, about 18 or 19 years of age, had on when he went away, a new greyish mixt cloth coat and waist-coast, light coating trowsers, with strings in his shoes, and had two has, he was about five feet six inches high, spare built and light complexion. Whoever will take up said negro, and bring him to the subscriber shall receive the above reward, and all reasonable charges. WINANT WINANT. Staten-Island, Jan. 5, 1793. 10 3"
  • 1793-01-12 Freedom seeking: Will Griggs
    Will, an indented Black man, ran away from Edward Dunant of Philadelphia on January 12, 1793. He was subsequently seen in Princeton, Trenton, and Flemington, where he was well known to the local residents. Two versions of a runaway advertising related to Will were published in New Jersey newspapers in Trenton and New Brunswick. One listed his name as "Will Rigg," but this is believed to be a typographical error. The other version of the ad listed his name as "Will Grigg" which is presumed to be the correct version and appears to be a reference to the Griggs family name. ----- Transcript of: Edward Dunant, "Stop the RUNAWAY!," Guardian, Or, New-Brunswick Advertiser, January 23, 1793: "Stop the RUNAWAY! ABSCONDED on the 12th inst. an indented Black man named WILL, but calls himself Will Grigg, after a former master. He lately belonged to Caesar Trent, a Negro in Princeton; is a likely, smart and pleasant countenanced fellow, about 5 feet 5 inches high, has a defect in one of his Legs, wears a false cue, and his hair frized at the temples; speaks good English; had on a round hat, blue surtout with white metal buttons, a light drab cloth coat with covered buttons, a corduroy waistcoat, fustian breeches, ribbed worsted hose much darned, and large white metal buckles in his shoes. He is well known at Trenton, Princeton and Flemington, and has been seen at these places with a bundle, the contents unknown. Any person apprehending the said fellow and bundle and conveying them to the subscriber at Philadelphia, shall receive a reward of EIGHT DOLLARS and all reasonable charges, and those who harbour or conceal him may rely on being prosecuted. EDWARD DUNANT. Philadelphia, January 19, 1793 12-3t" ----- Transcript of: Edward Dunant, "STOP THE RUNAWAY!," New-Jersey State Gazette, January 23, 1793: "STOP THE RUNAWAY! ABSCONDED on the 12th instant, an indented black man named WILL, but calls himself WILL RIGG, after a former master. He lately belonged to Caesar Trent, a negro in Princeton—is a likely active fellow, pleasant countenance, about five feet five inches high, has a defect in one of his legs, wears a false queu and his hair frized at the temples—speaks good English—had on a round hat, blue surtout with white metal buttons, a light drab cloth coat with covered buttons, a corduroy waistcoat, fustian breeches, rib'd worsted stockings much darn'd, and large white metal buckles in his shoes—he is well known at Trenton, Princeton and Flemington, and has been seen at these places with a bundle, the contents unknown.—Any person apprehending the said fellow and bundle, and conveying them to the subscriber at Philadelphia, shall receive a reward of EIGHT DOLLARS, and all reasonable charges—and those who harbour or conceal him, may rely on being prosecuted. EDWARD DUNANT Philadelphia, January 19, 1793 20 5w"
  • 1793-05-10 Birth: Clara Voorhees, Flora Stryker
    According to the obituary of Clara Voorhees (published in 1892), Clara had a family bible record that listed her birth date as May 10, 1793. She was a twin, and her twin sister was named Flora Stryker. It is presumed that Voorhees and Stryker were the women's married names, and these would not have been their names at birth. The name of their mother is not known. The two girls were enslaved by a man named Matthew Rue near Scott's Corner, a place in present-day Plainsboro, Middlesex County, New Jersey (but at the time this area would have been part of South Brunswick).
  • 1793-05-19 Freedom seeking: Stephen
    Stephen, aged 20, ran away from his enslaver Richard Wescoat at Great Egg-Harbour on or about Sunday, May 19, 1793. The enslaver published a runaway notice for Stephen offering a reward of 16 dollars for his capture, describing him as a "Mulatto Slave," and noting that Stephen broke into a trunk and took some bank notes and coins before he left. The following is the complete transcript of the runaway advertisement published by Richard Wescoat in the newspaper New-Jersey State Gazette on May 22, 1793: "SIXTEEN DOLLARS REWARD. RAN away from the subscriber, living at Great Egg-Harbour, Gloucester county on Sunday night last, a Mulatto Slave, about twenty years of age; had on when he went away a white shirt, new ticklenburgh trousers, blue sailor۪s jacket, wool hat, shoes with plated buckles; he is very much pitted with small-pox, a short chunky fellow, of a sour countenance, and goes by the name of Stephen. He broke open a trunk and stole two ten dollar Bank Notes, five Spanish milled dollars, and some small pieces of silver. Whoever takes up the said slave, and brings him back to his master, or secures him in any gaol so that he may be got again, shall leave the above reward and all resonable charges. RICHARD WESCOAT May 20, 1793. 37 3w"
  • 1793-06 Freedom seeking: Nance
    Nance, a Black woman aged about 23, ran away from her enslaver James Vaux of Providence, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, around June 1793. James Vaux published a runaway ad for Nance, which noted that Nance had previously been enslaved in Princeton, New Jersey. The enslaver believed that Nance might go to Philadelphia where her brother was living. The ad also mentioned that the enslaver had discovered Nance's plan to escape and consequently locked up clothes at the house to prevent Nance from taking a variety of attire with her. Nance managed to abscond anyway, but she only had a few items of clothing on her person. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Eight Dollars Reward, Ran away from the subscriber, a Negro Woman, named Nance, about twenty three years of age—has a sour frowning countenance and is so small for her age as to be taken for a girl. She had but few clothes with her—they being secured on discovering her intentions of going off. She formerly lived in Princeton, and has a Brother living in Philadelphia, to whom she may probably go. Whoever will secure the said Negro, so that her Master may get her again, shall be paid the above Reward: JAMES VAUX, Providence, Montgomery County, July 1, 1793"
  • 1793-12-10 Freedom seeking: Mary
    On December 10, 1793, a 20-year-old Black woman named Mary ran away from her enslaver Francis Blaise who resided in Princeton, NJ. The next morning Mary was seen at Rocky Hill, Somerset County, at the household of her previous enslaver, John Carter, where she had breakfast before she departed. Mary then went to the Sourland Mountain area by way of Griggstown. Ten days after Mary escaped, Francis Blaise offered a reward of $8 for Mary's return. Mary continued to evade capture, and a second runaway ad was published for her a year and a half later. See related event in 1795. ----- Transcript of the source document: "EIGHT DOLLARS REWARD. RUN away from the Subscriber, a Negro Woman named Mary, about 20 years of age, of a rather short but thick person and tollerably handsome face; having lived some time in a French family, she has acquired a little smattering of their language. Had on when she went away, a short gown and petticoat of grey coating, somewhat threadbare, and much soiled with grease and dirt, the short gown is not cut but plaited in the back to accommodate the shape, she also took with her a petticoat or skirt of India callico, blue ground with round white spots. She was seen at the house of John Carter of Rocky Hill, (of whom the subscriber purchased her) at a very early hour on the morning of the 11th inst. and there received her breakfast, from thence she went by Griggstown towards Sourland mountain, where she was also seen. Whoever apprehends the said Negro Woman and delivers her to her master near Princeton, or to David Hamilton, inn-keeper in Princeton, shall receive the above reward from FRANCIS BLAISE. Princeton, Dec. 20, 1793. 9tf"
  • 1794-02 Sale: Jef
    Correspondence between Col. John Neilson of New Brunswick and the Rev. Robert Finley of Princeton in February 1794 discussed Neilson's plans to purchase Jef from Mr. Mattison of Princeton for the sum of 90 pounds. It is unclear whether this sale was ever finalized. In a letter sent on February 25, 1794, Neilson asked his friend Finley to discreetly find out information about Jef's skills and character. Neilson sought information from someone other than Mr. Mattison and hoped to get an honest assessment of Jef's personality and habits. On February 27, 1794, Finley sent a reply saying that he had asked around and obtained information from Samuel Snowden, who had lived with Mattison and was well acquainted with Jef. The name Samuel Snowden mentioned by Finley in the letter likely refers to the Rev. Samuel Finley Snowden (1767-1845), a Presbyterian minister who was studying theology in Princeton at the time and would become the pastor of the Princeton church in 1795. Finley's letter described Jef as a healthy and sober young man 21 years of age. Jef was skilled at tending a kitchen garden and had limited experience managing horses—an activity that he seemed to like. Finley also noted that Jef routinely left the household at night because he was lonely at Mattison's home. Most likely, this means that Jef was separated from his family at Mattison's and had to go outside of the household in order to see his loved ones. This was a common situation for enslaved young adults in New Jersey who often experienced isolation in white households and were at a considerable distance from their own family members. For the full transcript of the two letters, see the linked source documents.
  • 1794-04-18 Freedom seeking: Cato
    Cato, aged 33, ran away from enslaver William M'Kissick of Pluckemin, Somerset County, NJ, in 1794. William M'Kissick published a notice offering a reward of 3 pounds for Cato's capture and mentioning that Cato formerly belonged to Col. Philip Van Horne of Middle-Brook. The runaway ad is found in the July 3, 1794, issue of the Arnett's New-Jersey Federalist, a newspaper published in New Brunswick. However, the ad probably ran in the paper for several months prior to this issue. Unlike other runaway ads published in this time period, the ad did not list the date when William M'Kissick first issued his notice. The ad mentioned that Cato ran away on "Friday the 18th ult." meaning the 18th of the previous month. The most recent "Friday the 18th" before this newspaper issue occurred in April of 1794. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that Cato ran away on April 18, 1794, and that M'Kissick first published his ad in May, then continued to pay for the ad for months while he searched for Cato. The following is the complete transcript of the runaway ad published on June 3, 1794, in Arnett's New-Jersey Federalist: "THREE POUNDS REWARD. RAN-AWAY, on Friday the 18th ult. from the subscriber living near Pluckemin, Somerset county, New-Jersey, a NEGRO MAN named CATO, 33 years of age, about 5 feet 10 or 11 inches high, squints much and is very near sighted; had on a light coloured coatee, waistcoat and overalls of the same, but he may change his dress, having taken with him a variety of cloathing. He formerly belonged to the late Col. Philip Van-Horne, near Middle-Brook. Whoever secures said Negro, that his master may have him again, shall receive the above reward and all reasonable charges paid, by WILLIAM M'KISSICK. 28tf"
  • 1794-06-01 Freedom seeking: Hannah, Peggy
    Hannah ran away from her enslaver James Law of Morrisville, Pennsylvania, around June 1, 1794. She took her 2-year-old daughter Peggy with her. After her escape, Hannah was seen in Trenton, New Jersey. James Law, who was associated with the Delaware Works mill property in Morrisville, published a runaway notice offering a reward for Hannah's capture. The following is the complete transcript of the runaway ad published by James Law in the June 18, 1794, issue of the Trenton newspaper New-Jersey State Gazette: "Three Dollars Reward. ABSCONDED from the service of the subscriber last Sunday morning, a Negro Wench, near 22 years of age, named Hannah, five feet high or thereabouts, has a scar under one of her jaws : She took with her her child about two years old, named Peggy, and a large bundle of wearing apparel. She has been seen lurking about Trenton. The above reward shall be paid to any person who will apprehend and bring them to JAMES LAW, at the Delaware Works. June 2, 1794 (91 3w.)"
  • 1794-12 Freedom seeking: Michael (alias Jem)
    Around December 1794, a Black man named Michael ran away from his enslaver William McClellan of York, PA, and stayed away for two years before he was apprehended. Michael adopted the name Jem and stayed for a while in Reading, PA, where he obtained a pass to go to Trenton, NJ. In Trenton, Justice Anderson signed a pass permitting Michael to go to New York. Michael subsequently returned to Trenton and worked there for a man named "Mr. Vanbertie a foreign minister." Michael had grown up in the area of Princeton, NJ, in the household of Albert Schenck, and this probably influenced his decision to return to this area of New Jersey.
  • 1794-12-15 Sale: David
    On December 15, 1794, Gilbert T. Snowden purchased an enslaved man named David from one Abraham Dean of Middlesex County, NJ. It appears that Snowden purchased David with the intention of liberating him. Four months after the sale, Snowden manumitted David, signing a deed of manumission on April 20, 1795. The information about David's sale comes from this deed of manumission, which was recorded by the Middlesex County Clerk in the Book of Manumissions and Removals on May 27, 1808 (p. 75).
  • 1794-12-24 Advertisement: Black boy
    In December 1794, Thomas Wiggins advertised the sale of a 12-year-old Black boy in Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "To be SOLD by the SUBSCRIBER, An elegant COACHEE, with HARNESS complete, not the worse for wear ; likewise, A smart, active, likely Negro Boy, in his thirteenth year. THOMAS WIGGINS. Princeton, December 24, 1794. "
  • 1795-01-12 Advertisement: Unnamed Black man [Trent]
    On January 12, 1795, Caesar Trent (a free Black man who lived in Princeton near the college campus) advertised the sale of a 30-year-old Black man who was experienced in domestic and farming labor. It is possible that the Black man may have been held in jail in Trenton because Caesar Trent's ad mentioned that persons interested in purchasing the man could apply to the jailor in Trenton. However, the ad also said that the man was "sold for no fault" of his own, and it is possible that the jailor in Trenton was merely a point of contact for Trent. The ad also said that Trent could be contacted "at 'Squire Mottison's," which appears to refer to Mr. Mattison, a white neighbor of Trent's in Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "To Be Sold, A Likely, smart, healthy Negro Man, about 30 years of age – He is very handy at house and all kinds of farming work. Sold for no fault but the want of a master. Any person inclining to purchase, will apply to the jailor in Trenton, or to the subscriber in Princeton at ‘Squire Mottison’s. Caesar Trent January 12, 1795"
  • 1795-01-22 Advertisement: Unnamed Black man miller, Unnamed Black woman cook [Stevenson]
    John Stevenson of Amwell, Hunterdon County, NJ, advertised the sale of two Black people, a man (age 22) and his wife (age 24). He was also selling a property with several mills about 3 miles away from Coryell's Ferry. The Black man mentioned was described as "an excellent miller" and likely lived and labored at Stevenson's mill property. The Black woman was a domestic worker and cook. ----- Transcript of the source document: "MILLS FOR SALE. To be SOLD at PRIVATE SALE, FIFTY-FIVE acres of excellent Land—30 acres of which is well timbered, 10 good watered meadow, and the remainder good arable land–lying on the main road leading from Ringo's Old Tavern (now Meldrum's) to Coryell's Ferry, being about three miles distant from each place. There are on said premises, a good stone dwelling house, barn and barracks; and excellent well of water at the door; a good grist-mill, and an excellent new two story stone fulling-mill, with two stocks and a full set of tools, sufficient for carrying on the business–the whole is in good repair. The grist-mill and plantation, exclusive of the fulling-mill, has rented for 75L per annum. An indisputable title will be given, and the conditions of sale made known, by application to the subscriber, and possession given the first of April next, or sooner if required. Also for Sale, A Negro Man and his Wife. The Negro man is 22 years of age, an excellent miller, and understands the farming business well. The negro woman is 24 years of age, understands all kinds of house work, and is an excellent cook. For further particulars inquire of JOHN STEVENSON. Hunterdon county, Amwell township, January 22, 1795. (26 4w.)"
  • 1795-03-10 Manumission: Gabriel
    The Middlesex County Book of Manumissions and Removals contains a copy of a document signed by Joseph Freeman Sr. (1709-1797), promising to manumit an enslaved man named Gabriel after the decease of Joseph Freeman Sr. and his wife Susannah Freeman. This document was originally signed on March 10, 1795, and witnessed by Joseph Freeman Jr. and Enos Freeman. On February 15, 1808, Enos Freeman appeared before judge Henry Freeman and acknowledged the authenticity of the document. The document was then recorded into the book by the Middlesex County Clerk on February 27, 1808. The following is a transcript of Joseph Freeman Sr.'s 1795 document: "I Joseph Freeman in the County of Middlesex and State of New Jersey this tenth day of March in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand seven hundred and ninety five do certify that after the decease of me and my wife Susannah, that my negro man Gabriel shall be set free. In Witness I have hereunto set my hand and seal. - Joseph Freeman" Joseph Freeman Sr. died in 1797. The date of death of his wife Susannah Freeman is uncertain. Whether and when Gabriel attained freedom is uncertain. It is likely that Gabriel attained freedom by 1808. However, a copy of the requisite manumission certificate for Gabriel (which would typically be issued by the Justice of the Peace of Middlesex County) has not been found in the book.
  • 1795-04 Freedom seeking: Jim, Sam
    Around April 1795, two young Black men named Jim (aged 20) and Sam (aged 19) ran away from their enslavers in Princeton, NJ. Following their escape, they were seen going from Trenton to Philadelphia, and their enslavers suspected that they might go further toward Baltimore. The enslavers submitted a runaway ad to a Philadelphia newspaper and offered a reward of $60 for the capture of the two men. The names of the enslavers as printed in the ad were John Schinck and John Dye, but the ad did not clarify which enslaver was the legal owner of which runaway. The name printed as "Schinck" is presumed to refer to the Schenck family of Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Sixty Dollars Reward. Ran away from the subscribers, two Negro men; one named Jim, about twenty years of age, five feet ten inches high, a little lame in one of his feet, occasioned by some of the small bones being displaced, and has a small lump on the outside of his foot; had on a green coat, striped overalls, grey great coat, blue stockings, and a rorum hat. The other named Sam, about nineteen years of age, five feet ten inches high, had on a grey linsey coat and jacket, corduroy breeches, an old rorum hat, grey great coat, and black or grey stockings. They were traced from Trenton to Philadelphia, and are supposed to be lurking about the city, or gone towards Baltimore. Whoever will take them up, and secure them in any gaol, so that the subscribers get them again, shall have the above reward and all reasonable charges. JOHN SCHINCK, JOHN DYE. Princeton, New Jersey, April 29"
  • 1795-04-20 Manumission: David
    David was manumitted by Gilbert Tennent Snowden (1766-1797), a minister of a Presbyterian church in Cranbury, Middlesex County, New Jersey. On April 20, 1795, Snowden executed a deed of manumission to set David free. The document stated that Snowden had purchased David four months prior on December 15, 1794, from Abraham Dean of Middlesex County. The deed was witnessed by Jonathan Combs and Thomas McDowell. On October 15, 1806, Thomas McDowell appeared before judge Nathaniel Hunt and acknowledged the authenticity of the deed he had witnessed a decade prior. A copy of the deed (along with judge Hunt's notarization) was then recorded by the Middlesex County Clerk (William P. Deare) on May 27, 1808.
  • 1795-07-03 Advertisement: American Black man
    On July 3, 1795, Mr. Bovis published a notice for the sale of a farm and an enslaved Black farm worker. The location of the farm was indicated as "in Pleasant Valley, one mile from Princeton." The ad referred to the Black man as "an American negro" thus indicating that he was born in North America (rather than brought to New Jersey from Africa or the Caribbean). ----- Transcript of the source document: "FOR SALE, A FARM situated in Pleasant Valley, one mile from Princeton, containing 172 acres of Land, viz 30 in wood, 40 in thick meadow, the rest grain ; a large commodious house, lately put in repair with out out houses, a good garden, and orchard well stocked ; a chaise, wagons. 5 horses, 2 yoke oxen, some cows and young calves a flock of sheep, pigs turkeys, geese, fowls, and pigeons, fanning and garden utensils, a carpenters chest of tools, and an American negro, who is well acquainted with the business of a farm ; the whole in the best state, and a good crop on the premises, consisting of corn, barley, wheat, oats, hay, flax, and potatoes, with sufficient supply of water. To prevent trouble, about 2000l. Is expected for the same. Terms of payment, will be made agreeable to the purchasers. For further particulars, apply to Mr. Bovis, the proprietor, or the estate, or to Mr. Johnson, Attorney, at Mr. Robert’s Stockton, near Princeton New Jersey. July 3"
  • 1795-07-16 Freedom seeking: Mary
    Mary, who originally ran away from Francis Blaise's house at Princeton in December 1793, managed to evade capture for at least a year and a half, and possibly longer. She had been seen heading to the Sourland Mountain area when she first escaped, but it is not known whether she continued staying in that area. Mary was about 20 years old when she ran away from Princeton. In July 1795, Francis Blaise published a second runaway ad for Mary offering a reward of $24 for her return (he had previously offered a reward of $8 when Mary first absconded). By now Blaise was living in New Brunswick, Middlesex County. Blaise's second ad made an appeal directly to Mary and to whoever was harboring her. Blaise stated that, if Mary would return of her own accord, he would be willing to sell her to a person of her own choosing and, further, he would subtract the $24 reward from the sale price. If Mary was being harbored by her family members or other supporters, this proposed arrangement may have helped them to legally purchase Mary's freedom. Whether Mary took Blaise's offer and returned or continued living as a fugitive is uncertain. ----- Transcript of the source document: "TWENTY-FOUR DOLLARS REWARD. RUN away from the Subscriber then living near Princeton, on the 10th December 1793, a Negro Woman named Mary, about 20 years of age, of a short thick person and tollerable handsome face; having lived some time in a French family, she had a little smattering of the French language, the subscriber purchased her of John Carter, at Rocky-hill, where she was seen the day after she ran away, she was also seen at Sourland mountain. Whoever takes up said Negro Woman and delivers her to the subscriber in New-Brunswick, shall be entitled to the above reward--She herself shall be entitled to it, in diminution upon the price at her sale if she is willing to return, and procure herself a master, the subscriber giving her liberty to make her own choice, if any person where she lives should wish to purchase her, in order to save expence and trouble, he may know the terms by directing a line to the subscriber which shall be immediately answered. FRANCIS BLAISE New-Brunswick, July 16, 1795. 38."
  • 1796-09-29 Freedom seeking: Choisi
    A Black man named Choisi ran away from his enslaver Mr. Tulane in Princeton, NJ on September 29, 1796. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Eight Dollars Reward. Ran Away, from Princeton, between the 29th and 30th September, a NEGRO MAN who calls himself CHOISI, about 5 feet 10 inches high, carries himself very straight, speaks French, the Creole Idiom, and bad English, he stutters and speaks a little through the nose; his fore teeth are pointed; he has a full and round face, and a thin beard; his chin is full of pimples which look rather like a ringworm. He had on when he went away, a great coat of blue cloth, a jacket of black cloth, patched on the elbows with pieces of blue cloth, a pair of very tight nankeen pantaloons, and a round hat with a very high crown, he took also with him two nankeen waist coats. Masters of vessels are warned not to carry off the said Negro at their peril. Whoever secures the above run-away so that his master may have him again, shall have the above reward by applying to Mr. Tulane at Princeton, or to Mr. LeBreton, Dentist, No. 135, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Oct. 22."
  • 1796-12 Capture: Michael (alias Jem)
    Around the end of 1796, Black freedom seeker Michael was apprehended by his enslaver William McClellan. Michael had run away from McClellan's home in York, PA, two years prior. Michael was going by the name Jem, living in Trenton, and working for "Mr. Vanbertie a foreign minister" when he was captured by McClellan, who came to Trenton to apprehend the runaway. Michael would go on to make another escape attempt six months later.
  • 1797 Freedom seeking: Jack
    A Black man named Jack ran away from his enslaver Frederick Cruser of Rocky Hill mills, near Princeton, New Jersey. He left Rocky Hill and went toward Boston. He was seen in Dighton, MA, and passed Taunton, MA, on his way to Boston before he was captured and brought back to New Jersey. The exact date of this escape is not known. It occurred sometime in 1798 or earlier, and Jack would have been under the age of 23 at the time. Information about this escape attempt comes from a runaway ad that was published after Jack ran away again; that runaway ad, published in January 1799, mentioned that Jack had run away before and detailed Jack's previous escape route. The ad stated: "ran away once before and was found at one Devenports 10 miles this side of Boston, on the road from Tanton to Boston, had been at Diton."
  • 1797 to 1799 Birth: Sojourner Truth
    Sojourner Truth was born into bondage in Swartekill (near present-day Rifton), a hamlet in Hurley, Ulster County, New York. Her birth name was Isabella. Her parents were James and Betsy Baumfree, who were enslaved to Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799). Following New York law, Isabella inherited her mother's condition of unfreedom and was at the time of her birth deemed a slave of Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. ESTIMATING THE DATE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH'S BIRTH: The exact date of her birth is not known. Many secondary sources list her approximate year of birth as 1797. Comparing her book, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth (narrated to Olive Gilbert and first published in 1850), with archival sources that document the events of her childhood suggests that she may have been born in 1798 or in the first half of 1799. EXAMINING PASSAGES FROM THE NARRATIVE OF SOJOURNER TRUTH: "THE subject of this biography, Sojourner Truth, as she now calls herself, but whose name originally was Isabella, was the daughter of James and Betsey, slaves of one Col. Ardinburgh, Hurley, Ulster County, N. Y. Sojourner does not know in what year she was born, but knows she was liberated under the act of 1817, which freed all slaves who were forty years old and upward. Ten thousand slaves were then set at liberty. Those under forty years of age were retained in servitude ten years longer, when all were emancipated." (Narrative of Sojourner Truth, p. 13) In 1799, New York State began to gradually abolish slavery. The Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery went into effect on July 4, 1799. The law stipulated that a daughter born to an enslaved mother after July 4, 1799, would not inherit the condition of permanent enslavement, but rather would become free after serving her mother's master for 25 years (sons had to serve for 28 years before they could become free). Evidently, Sojourner Truth did not benefit from this law. We know Truth inherited her mother's condition of enslavement, and thus we must assume that Truth was born before July 4, 1799. As Truth's narrative recalls, she expected to gain freedom under the Gradual Emancipation Law of 1817, which stipulated that enslaved individuals born before July 4, 1799, would be emancipated on July 4, 1827. "Of her first master, she can give no account, as she must have been a mere infant when he died; and she with her parents and some ten or twelve other fellow human chattels, became the legal property of his son, Charles Ardinburgh." (Narrative of Sojourner Truth, p. 13) Truth recounted that she was an infant when Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. passed away. Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. passed away in 1799. "Isabella and Peter, her youngest brother, remained, with their parents, the legal property of Charles Ardinburgh till his decease, which took place when Isabella was near nine years old." (Narrative of Sojourner Truth, p. 17) "At this memorable time, Isabella was struck off, for the sum of one hundred dollars, to one John Nealy, of Ulster County, New York; and she has an impression that in this sale she was connected with a lot of sheep. She was now nine years of age, and her trials in life may be dated from this period. She says, with emphasis, 'Now the war begun.'" (Narrative of Sojourner Truth, p. 26) Truth recalled being sold at auction at the age of 9, a sale that was precipitated by the death of her second enslaver Charles Hardenbergh. This is one of the most vivid memories of her childhood. Charles Hardenbergh died in early 1808.
  • 1797-05-28 Freedom seeking: Michael (alias Jem)
    On May 28, 1797, a Black man named Michael ran away from his enslaver William McClellan of York, Pennsylvania. McClellan published a runaway ad that provided details about Michael's biography and information about his previous escape attempt. According to the runaway ad, Michael was "raised in Princeton in New Jersey, by Captain Albert Scank," using the phonetic spelling for the name of Michael's original enslaver. This family's name in the Princeton area is usually spelled Schenck. McClellan supposed that Michael would try to return to New Jersey as he had done during his previous escape attempt two and a half years prior. The ad also noted that Michael went by the alias Jem and worked for "Mr. Vanbertie a foreign minister" in Trenton last time he ran away. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Fifty Dollars Reward. Ran away from the subscriber in the borough of York, the 28th inst. a negro man named Michael, he is about five feet 8 or 10 inches high, stout made, broad shouldered, thick jawed, bandy legged, and stoops considerably when walking; has lost two or three of his fore teeth, is somewhat dull of hearing and seldom speaks unless spoken to. Had on and took with him a grey coloured cloth coat, a jacket and overalls of drab colour, 1 pair of nankeen coveralls, 1 pair of striped trowsers, 1 fine shirt, and 1 or 2 coarse do. 1 pair of new shoes. The said negro was raised in Princeton in New Jersey, by Captain Albert Scank, and it is probable he may attempt to return there. He ran away about two years and a half since, and lived some time near Reading in this state, where he obtained a pass which carried him to Trenton in Jersey, and there had it countersigned by a Justice Anderson from whence he went to New-York, and returned to Trenton; at which place I apprehended him last winter in the service of Mr. Vanbertie a foreign minister, at that time he was called by the name of Jem. Whoever takes up said Negro and secures him in any jail, so that I may get him again, shall receive the above reward. WILLIAM MCCLELLAN. June 5."
  • 1798 Capture: Jack
    A Black freedom seeker named Jack was apprehended 10 miles south of Boston (on the road between Taunton and Boston, after passing Dighton). He was captured at the home (or business) of a person named Devenport. Jack was brought back to Rocky Hill, near Princeton, New Jersey, where his enslaver Frederick Cruser lived and operated a mill. The exact date of this event is not known. It occurred sometime in 1798 or earlier, and Jack would have been under the age of 23 at the time. Information about this capture event comes from a runaway ad that was published after Jack ran away again; that runaway ad, published in January 1799, mentioned that Jack had run away before and was captured. The ad stated: "ran away once before and was found at one Devenports 10 miles this side of Boston, on the road from Tanton to Boston, had been at Diton."
  • 1798-03-10 Manumission: Jenne
    Jenne, aged 21 to 35, was manumitted by Joseph Freeman of Woodbridge, Middlesex County, New Jersey. The certificate of manumission was signed by the Overseers of the Poor of Woodbridge (Matthew Freeman, John Conway) and Justices of the Peace for Middlesex County (Henry Marsh, Ichabod Potter) on March 10, 1798. The document stated that Jenne was examined in court and met the eligibility requirements for manumission in New Jersey, i.e. the person was aged between 21 and 35 years old and was "sound in mind and not under any bodily incapacity" of obtaining a livelihood. This manumission was recorded by the Middlesex County Clerk (William P. Deare) on May 9, 1803.
  • 1798-04-10 Manumission: Dick Highman
    Dick Highman was manumitted by Frederick Buckalew of South Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey. The deed of manumission was signed on April 10, 1798, by Frederick Buckalew in the presence of witnesses James Voorhees, Samuel Applegate, and John Rhodes. This document was recorded by the Middlesex County Clerk (William P. Deare) on September 8, 1819, over 21 years after it was originally signed by the enslaver. Frederick Buckalew appeared before Judge Robert McChesney on September 4, 1819, to authenticate the original document and acknowledge that he had signed it.
  • 1798-04-22 Freedom seeking: Unnamed man [Trimmer]
    Enslaver John Trimmer issued a notice that an enslaved man ran away from him on April 22, 1798, in Dutch Valley (present-day Long Valley area, Morris County). Trimmer described the runaway as a "mulatto man," but did not mention his name. Trimmer offered a reward of $10 for the runaway's capture. The following is the complete transcript of John Trimmer's runaway ad, as it appeared in the May 24, 1798, issue of the Morristown newspaper Genius of Liberty: "Ten Dollars Reward. RAN AWAY from the subscriber on the night of the 22nd inst. a Mulatto Man, about five feet high, pretty stout and thick-set, had on when he went away, a bottle-green, tight-bodied coat, scarlet jacket, thickset breeches, and a forum hat not much worn; supposed to have carried a small bundle with him. Whoever will apprehend said mulatto fellow, and confine him in any gaol in this state, or return him to his master, shall have the above reward. (49,tf,1dp.) JOHN TRIMMER. Dutch Valley, Morris County, April 23."
  • 1798-04-24 Sale: Tony
    On April 24, 1798, Thomas Read and Archibald Read sold a Black man named Tony to John Neilson of New Brunswick, NJ, for a term of 5 years. John Neilson paid 100 dollars for Tony (50 dollars to each of Tony's two sellers). Tony was an adult at this time, but his age was not recorded in the relevant documents. The sellers were the sons of the late Rev. Israel Read (late long-time pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook in Somerset County), and they had inherited Tony from their father when he passed away in 1793. Where exactly Tony lived between 1793 and this sale in 1798 is unclear. The Read brothers grew up in Bound Brook, but Dr. Thomas Read lived in Montgomery County in upstate New York in 1798. He personally came to New Brunswick to sign the sale documents. Archibald Read probably also lived outside of the area by 1798 because he did not personally appear at the sale. Archibald had the executor of his father's estate, Dr. Moses Scott, sign the documents and accept the payment on his behalf. As the result of this sale, Tony would go to live with John Neilson in New Brunswick. Two archival documents pertaining to the sale were preserved in the Neilson Family Papers. Both documents were dated April 24, 1798. In the documents, the sellers' family name is variously spelled Read or Reed, and the name of the enslaved man is variously written as Tony or Tone. The first document is an indenture for Tony, an agreement between the sellers Thomas Read and Archibald Read (signed by Moses Scott on Archibald's behalf) and the buyer John Neilson. This indenture was witnessed by Judge Elijah Phillips and Joseph W. Scott. The indenture stated that Tony was sold for a period of 5 years from the date of the sale. The indenture did not explicitly state what would happen to Tony after the 5-year term, but it said that Thomas and Archibald "divest themselves of all right & title in the said negro man Tony." This seems to imply that Tony was supposed to gain freedom at the expiration of the 5-year term in 1803 and would not return to the Read family. The second document is a certification of Tony's consent to be sold to John Neilson for the 5-year term. This certification was signed by Elijah Phillips, Judge of the Common Pleas for Middlesex County, who noted that Tony personally appeared before him and agreed to the terms of the sale. See the linked sources for the complete transcripts of the documents.
  • 1798-12-30 Freedom seeking: Jack
    On Sunday, December 30, 1798, a Black man named Jack, aged about 23, ran away from enslaver Frederick Cruser of Rocky Hill mills, near Princeton, New Jersey. Cruser submitted a runaway ad for Jack to a New York newspaper. The ad noted that Jack had made a previous escape attempt, during which he went toward Boston by way of Dighton and Taunton (two towns in Massachusetts on the road to Boston). Cruser believed that Jack would once again attempt to reach Boston and then possibly go to Vermont. ----- Transcript of the source document: "100 Dollars Reward Runaway on Sunday the 30th Dec. last, from the subscriber living at Rocky Hill mills, near Princeton, state of New Jersey, a small negro man named Jack, about 5 feet 2 or 3 inches high, 23 years of age, pretty black shows his teeth very much when he laughs, has a very bad cough particularly night, was brought up a miller, and occasionally tended a saw mill. Had on when he went away, a new black fur hat, a light coloured long coat and striped trowsers, ran away once before and was found at one Devenports 10 miles this side of Boston, on the road from Tanton to Boston, had been at Diton, expect had gone the same road to Boston, or likely gone on to Vermont state. I suppose he had a forged pass with him, whoever taked up said slave and returns him to his master shall receive the 100 dollars, or 80 dollars to lodge him in New York goal, or 40 dollars to lodge him in any other goal, and give notice to his master so that he may get him again, shall receive the above rewards of FRED. CRUSER jan 16 1w "
  • 1799 Transfer: Sojourner Truth, James Baumfree, Elizabeth Baumfree
    In 1799, when Sojourner Truth was an infant, her first enslaver Johannes Hardenbergh Jr. (1729-1799) died. Johannes Hardenbergh Jr.'s son Charles Hardenbergh inherited Sojourner Truth and her parents James and Betsey Baumfree as part of the Hardenbergh estate. At the time of this event, Sojourner Truth's name was Isabella. The following is a copy of the relevant passage from her book The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: "Of her first master, she can give no account, as she must have been a mere infant when he died; and she with her parents and some ten or twelve other fellow human chattels, became the legal property of his son, Charles Ardinburgh." (p. 13)
  • 1799-01-19 Sale: Lydia
    On January 19, 1799, the executors of the estate of David Williamson of South Brunswick sold a Black woman named Lydia to Professor John Mclean Sr. of Princeton University (then called the College of New Jersey) for the sum of $160. Lydia's age was not recorded in the bill of sale. The estate executors who signed the bill of sale were Thomas McDowell, John Perrine, Stephen Johnes, and James Schureman, all sons-in-law of the deceased David Williamson. Williamson had died about two years prior in 1797. Benjamin Griggs and John Van Pelt signed as witnesses. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Know all men by these presents that we Thomas McDowell John Perrine Stephen Johnes & James Schureman Executors of the last will & Testament of David Williamson Dec'd. Late of South Brunswick County of Middlesex and State of New Jersey for the sum of one hundred & fifty dollars to them in hand paid have and do bargain and sell to John McClane his Heirs Executors administrators or assigns a female slave named Lydia to have and to hold to him his Executors administrators heirs & assigns forever of which said slave Lydia we have put the said John McClane in full possession at the sealing of these presents in the name of the whole hereby sold - and we do warrant and defend the said John McClane in peaceable possession of said slave Lydia against us & all persons Lawfully claiming from or under us or from the said David Williamson Dec'd. as witness our hands and seals this 19th Day of January In the year of our Lord 1799. Thos. McDowell John Perrine Stephen Johnes Jas Schureman Sealed & Delivered In the presence of Benjamin Griggs John Van Pelt"
  • 1799-04 Freedom seeking: Abner
    Around the spring of 1799, a Black man named Abner ran away from Isaac Tunnell of Dagsborough, Delaware. Tunnell believed that Abner might have gone to Pennsylvania or New Jersey and placed an ad in a Trenton newspaper offering a reward for anyone who would apprehend and jail Abner anywhere in Delaware, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey. Tunnell wrote his ad on June 26, 1800, indicating that Abner was still at large more than a year after his escape. The ad was still running in the papers as of December 1800, suggesting that Abner continued to evade capture. ----- Transcript of the source document: "Thirty Dollars Reward. RANAWAY, a year ago last spring, a BLACK MAN, named Abner, about 40 years of age; 6 feet high; stout made, and has a small scar on one of his cheeks, occasioned by an inflamation proceeding from the tooth ach, which broke on the outside; he formerly belonged to Mr. Levin Dirickson. The above reward will be paid for securing the said servant in any jail in New-Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware until his master can get him again. ISAAC TUNNELL. Dagsborough, (state of Delaware) June 26, 1800. N.B. A letter put into any post-office, and directed as above will be duly received."
  • 1799-08-25 Freedom seeking: Tom
    Tom, a Black man aged 25 or 26, ran away from enslaver William Throckmorton of Spotswood on August 25, 1799. Tom was seen on the road to Trenton, and may have been heading to Pennsylvania. Throckmorton placed a runaway notice offering a 30 dollar reward for Tom's capture three days after Tom left. The ad was still running in the papers in December 1799, suggesting that Tom was likely still at large. The following is the transcript of the runaway ad by William Throckmorton as published in the Trenton newspaper New-Jersey State Gazette on December 10, 1799: "Thirty Dollars Reward. RUNAWAY from the subscriber on Sunday 25th inst. Living in Spotswood, South-Amboy township, county of Middlesex, state of New-Jersey, a Negro Man named TOM, 25 or 26 years old; five feet six or seven inches high, dark complexion, thick lips, bushy hair, which he sometimes wears tied and his ear lock platted, had on, when he went away, a long striped nankeen coat, tow trousers and castor hat. Whoever will take up the said Negro, and secure him in any gaol or deliver him to his master, shall receive the above reward, with reasonable charges paid by WILLIAM THROCKMORTON. N. B. It is supposed he has gone into Pennsylvania, as he was seen on the road to Trenton. August 28, 1799."
  • 1799-09-23 Freedom seeking: Harry
    On September 23, 1799, a Black man named Harry ran away from his enslaver, Abraham Skillman, who lived in Somerset County in the vicinity of Princeton. ----- Transcript of the source document: "FIFTY DOLLARS REWARD. RAN AWAY, from the subscriber on the 23rd of September last a negro boy named Harry, it is probable he will alter his name; he is 20 years of age, about 5 feet high, thick set, very black, small eyes, his hair short and knotty, he speaks quick, he had a small sore on his chin, he took two coats, with him, one blue the other green, and other clothes, a high crowned hat; he stole when he went away sixty silver dollars and three notes, one of ten dollars, and two of five, he understands nail making and farming. Whoever takes up said negro, and delivers him to his master or secures him in any jail, and gives information so that his owner can get him again shall have the above reward, and all reasonable charges paid by ABRAHAM SKILLMAN. Somerset County, New-Jersey, near Princeton. } Dec. 6."
  • 1799-11 Freedom seeking: Adam Hill
    Adam Hill escaped from enslaver William McMurtrie of Philadelphia, PA, at some point in 1799 (or earlier) and ran to New Jersey. He was later apprehended around Middlesex County. See the related jailing event for Adam Hill for details.