Friday, February 17, 2012

A Negro Man Called Thomas...

Several years ago I was corresponding with Carol Dorward, a distant cousin in my Goodrich line. She is a descendant of Price Goodrich while I am descended from his sister, Abigail (Goodrich) Joslin. They are the children of Bela and Sally (Church) Goodrich. Bela is a son of John and Abigail (Price) Goodrich.

John Goodrich was born in 1754 Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut and lived there until about 1807 when he moved to Worthington, Franklin County, Ohio. From about the late 1790s until early 1806 he was known as John 3rd since there were two older men in Wethersfield by the name of John Goodrich. In April 1806 one of the older men died and John 3rd became John 2nd. Needless to say, this does create some “issues” with researching “my” John Goodrich.

One of the items that Carol sent me was a transcription of a brief biography about “our” John Goodrich from an article on Christ Church of Worthington. Among the information provided in that article was the following statement: “On Dec. 8, 1799, he bought a Negro man 'Tom,' the bill of sale being recorded on the Wethersfield land records.”

I know we are not supposed to judge our ancestors by today's standards, but I was more than a little surprised to learn about this “transaction” and decided to find the deed record. I'm glad that I did...

Wethersfield Deeds, volume 21 page 528.
Dated December 18, 1799. Recorded January 8, 1800.
Family History Microfilm 0,006,000 viewed February 13, 2012.

Wethersfield. December 18th, AD 1799.

Whereas I John Goodrich the third of said Wethersfield have this day purchased, bought & received of James Mitchell of said Wethersfield a Negro man called & known by the name of Thomas or Tom, between fifty & Sixty years of age & have gotten a Bill of Sale of sd Negro, to have & hold him said Tom during his Natural Life, and said Thomas or Tom has well served & Indemnified me, in Emancipating & setting him free, I do therefore for the Consideration of ten Dollars received to my full Satisfaction of said Thomas or Tom, sell convey & makeover, give & grant to said Thomas or Tom, all my Right & title to & Interest in his the said Thomas's Service, during his Natural Life, and whereas said Thomas is too far advanced in years to be Emancipated & set free, according to the Statute in such case provided, was to cause him to fall upon the Town in case of want & Sickness, yet so far as relates to any control over him, he is hereby Emancipated and free to all Intents & purposes as fully & absolutely as tho he had become a freeman of this State, & he the said Tom is forever, or during his natural, to enjoy all the Rights & priviledges of a free Citizen, as far as I can Effect both, from any Claim I have or might have or any of my Heirs or assigns. As Witness my hand and Seal the day & date above.

John Goodrich 3d. {Seal}

Signed, Sealed, & delivered in presence of – John Marsh, Stephen M. Mitchell.


Of course, as often happens, this document brings up more questions. We'll probably never know the underlying reason for his actions but it appears that John purchased and emancipated Thomas on the same day.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "A Negro Man Called Thomas," Kinexxions, posted February 17, 2012 ( : accessed [access date])


Carol said...


Susan Clark said...

So glad you looked at the deed, but I must admit to an envious sigh. After months of transcribing probate and guardianship documents involving the people enslaved by our families, I've yet to find one that makes me anything but deeply sad. I can't imagine finding something admirable.

Anonymous said...

What a neat story! I'll have to reference this blog with my Goodrich family material. Unfortunately, I have a number of relatives on my mother's side in North and South Carolina who were slave owners. It was not the best time in our country's history. Babs