One of Connecticut’s documented slaves was Broteer or Venture Smith (1729-1805). Venture was sold into slavery for 4 gallons of rum and a piece of calico cloth. He was stolen away at age 6 in Africa. While he was enslaved in CT for different masters, he worked extremely hard and long hours and in later life bought his freedom and that of his family. He is buried in a marked grave in East Haddam. Venture was sold for 4 gallons of rum and a piece of calico. Calico is cotton fabric woven in plain weave and may be dyed or printed. It gets its name from Calicut India where in the 17th and 18th centuries calico cotton was a desired trading commodity between India and Europe. Four gallons of rum and a piece of calico.




The 1790 census listed Connecticut as having 2,648 slaves and 2,771 free Blacks. Much labor was needed to run a household. Usually the children in the family, that survived infancy and childhood diseases, filled an economic role to perform tasks that would help keep the family in textiles, food, firewood and excess goods for cash or barter. Families without any or enough children might take in orphans, apprentices to learn a trade, or purchase hired hands or indentured servants. Well to do families might purchase a slave. (Owning a slave might be the most economical of all- lifelong service and their offspring.) Slaves in Connecticut often lived in the house with the family and were house slaves. Some tended livestock and worked in the fields and many would cut and split (by hand) the 40 cords of wood needed for cooking, washing and heating. (no chain saws!) Note: Many of the slaves in CT were involved in ship building, fishing, whaling and other enterprises.

1790 Census J. Manning owned one enslaved person

Josiah (1725-1806) and Mary Manning lived in Windham. Though most families had to farm to some degree as in raise some of their food and cut their firewood, Josiah also had another profession. He (later joined by two of his sons) became one of the region’s most recognizable and prolific grave stone carvers (over 2300 stones are attributed to the Manning Family carvers). Tragically Josiah and Mary lost six of their children: Jered, aged 4 weeks; Frederick, aged 3 years; twins-Jimias and Trime, aged 1 day; John, aged 10 years; and Cook, aged 7 weeks. Josiah’s sons that grew to adulthood and both survived fighting in the Revolutionary War were Frederick (1758-1810) and Rockwell (1760-1806) who also became successful stone carvers and set up shop in Norwich. According to the 1790 census, a Josiah Manning (aged 65) owned an enslaved person. It is an educated guess that the enslaved would help with household chores such as cut 40 cords of wood and possibly to assist with the family business. A source for another stone carver with a documented enslaved person reads “Pompe Stevens was the Negro servant and shop apprentice who picked, hauled and prepared stones and sharpened chisels.”