Recent Blog Posts

The Saga of Jupiter Richards

By Cliff McCarthy (A version of this story appears on the website “Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley” (https://freedomstoriespv.wordpress.com) and is used with permission.)   Jupiter Richards was an American patriot. Of this fact there is no doubt, although much of his heartbreaking story is shrouded in speculation and unanswered questions. The facts are there…

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The Rescue of Angeline Palmer

By Cliff McCarthy (A version of this story appears on the website “Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley” (https://freedomstoriespv.wordpress.com) and is used with permission.)   Angeline Palmer was a freeborn African American raised in the Amherst alms-house.[1]  Her mother died of smallpox in 1831 when Angeline was about two years old and her father, Solomon…

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Jane Maria Robinson Scottron

By Marla R. Miller Jane Maria Robinson Scottron appears among the more than sixty dressmakers listed in Springfield city directory in the 1870-71 publication—coincidentally (or not) the first year that the publishers of the directory did not flag which of the city’s residents were “colored.”[1]  If you didn’t already know that the Scottrons were a…

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Peter, of Longmeadow

By Melissa Cybulski Peter was an enslaved man owned by Rev. Stephen Williams of Longmeadow, MA.  He appears several times in Williams’ diary from approximately 1755-1774.  He may appear as early as 1751, but it is difficult to parse out which “Peter” is being referenced in the diary since there was at least one other…

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Thomas Thomas, of Springfield

By Cliff McCarthy (An early version of this story appears on the website “Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley” (https://freedomstoriespv.wordpress.com) and is used with permission.) Thomas Thomas was a legendary figure in Springfield’s African American community.   He was a great story-teller and, as is often the case, his tales have been reported many times over the…

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Aaron Nazro, of the “Colored Military Corps”

By Cliff McCarthy A curious item in the Springfield Republican of 17 December 1831 drew some attention: MARRIED — In this town, Thanksgiving eve, Mr. John White, of Hartford, to Miss Lucretia Nazro, daughter of Colonel Nazro, of the colored military corps of this town.[1] Who was “Colonel” Nazro and what was the “colored military…

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Sojourner Truth

By Christine Mirabal Sojourner Truth was a well-known African-American abolitionist and feminist who travelled across the country during the nineteenth century lecturing in support of the emancipation of enslaved people, women’s rights, and other issues. She resided in Northampton, Massachusetts for about 13 years and it was during these years that her public speaking career…

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William Green, A Life Recovered

By Cliff McCarthy (A version of this story appears on the website “Freedom Stories of the Pioneer Valley” (https://freedomstoriespv.wordpress.com) and is used here with permission.) Of the formerly enslaved people who settled in Springfield, we probably know the most about William Green. He published his story in 1853 under the title, A Narrative of Events in the…

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Harry W. Putnam, of Greenfield

by Carol Aleman Harry Walter Putnam, an early bicycle enthusiast, sportsman, and athlete in Greenfield, began life in November 1870 in Springfield, Massachusetts,1 the son of John H. Putnam of Greenfield2 and Ann Eliza Smith of Pittsfield.3 By March, 1875 his father had died,4 and within five years Harry’s time was divided between his mother’s…

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The Murder of Jonathan Jewett

By Cliff McCarthy “We learn from Belchertown, that a respectable black man was killed by his son by a stab with a knife, on Monday evening last.”[1] This brief item appeared in newspapers around the Commonwealth during the last days of December in 1814. Who was the nameless black man and what were the circumstances…

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