Dad's Memories - VENTURE SMITH

- 18 November 98 - 22 November 98

VENTURE Smith - A Real Haddam Neck Legend 

and Author of

A NARRATIVE -of the- LIFE AND ADVENTURES -of- VENTURE A NATIVE OF AFRICA, But Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America RELATED BY HIMSELF 

Originally Printed in 1798

VENTURE'S Story is presented here with commentary from many sources - both print and "web" 

Compiled by R.E. Langdon

FROM: UNCHAINED VOICES - An anthology of Black Authors in the English Speaking World of the 18th Century, ...c 1996, by The University Press of Kentucky, Vincent Carretta - Editor

From 1798 printing - VENTURE - Certificates

(with notes From: Unchained Voices)


STONINGTON, CONN., November 3, 1798
THESE may certify, that VENTURE is a free negro man, aged about 69 years, and was, as we have ever understood, a native of Africa, and formerly a slave to Mr. James Mumford, of Fisher's Island, in the State of New York, who sold him to Mr. Thomas Stanton, 2nd, of Stonington, in the State of Connecticut, and said Stanton sold said VENTURE to Col. Oliver Smith, of the aforesaid place. That said VENTURE hath sustained the character of a faithful servant, and that of a temperate, honest and industrious man, and being ever intent of obtaining his freedom, he was indulged by his master after the ordinary labor of the days of his servitude, to improve the nights in fishing and other employments to his own emolument, in which time he procured so much money as to purchase his freedom from his late master, Colonel Smith; after which he took upon himself the name of VENTURE SMITH, and has since his freedom purchased a negro woman, called Meg, to whom he was previously married, and also his children who were slaves, and said VENTURE has since removed himself and family to the town of East Haddam, in this State, where he hath purchased lands on which he hath built a house, and there taken up his abode. 30

NOTES: (from UNCHAINED VOICES - Vincent Carretta, Editor

30 What little is known of Smith beyond the information he gives here is found in the 1897 edition of the Narrative (New London, Connecticut), "Revised and Republished with Traditions by H.M. Selden, Haddam, Connecticut." The traditions mainly concern Smith's strength and size, which clearly had attained the status of local legend after his death: he was said to weigh over 300 pounds and measure 6 feet around his waist... We also learn that of the "four strong men" who bore his coffin to its burial in the cemetery of the First Congregational Church in East Haddam, "the two in front were white, proving the respect he had won, while two of his own race assisted in the rear...

This note is followed by the inscriptions from the grave markers
of Venture and his wife Meg
which are included in H.M. Selden's "Traditions"

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