Dad's Memories - VENTURE SMITH

- 28 November 98 - 10 December 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

VENTURE Smith's Life & Story - TIMELINE (1729-1998)

Rick's Note: The dates given are estimates - probably accurate with 1 year - based on statements made in VENTURE'S narrative. Many of them are related as "age about" or "having completed his ##th year", the only date certain is the date of Venture's death, the rest are worked backwards to his estimated birth year and/or forward from there.

1729: Born in Africa - Dukandarra, in Guinea; Name - Broteer Furro; First Child of his father (Saungm Furro, Prince of the tribe of Dukandara) and first child of his father's first of three wives.

1735/36: (Age about 6 1/2) Kidnapped by the army of an african tribe (about 6000 strong) from about 150-200 miles to the East - and force marched to the west 400-500 miles. Captured a second time by a tribe from around the region called Anamaboo (on the coast of present-day Ghana) and taken to the Castle (probably Cape Coast Castle, the principal British - slave trade - factory.) ...and rowed away to a vessel belonging to Rhode Island, commanded by Captain Collingwood, and the mate Thomas Mumford... bought on board by Robert Mumford, steward of said vessel, for four gallons of rum, and a piece of calico, and renamed VENTURE - One of two hundred sixty slaves bought for that vessels cargo.

1737/38: ("Having completed his eighth year...") Arrived at Robert Mumford's place at Fisher's Island, Connecticut after first calling at port in Barbados and selling all but four of the surviving 200 slaves bought in Africa...

1751: About 22 years old - married Meg, a slave of his master Robert Mumford's

1751: Induced to run for freedom - but returned and "turned in" the ringleader "Heddy" (an indentured servant - Irishman) belonging to Robert Mumford

1752: Daughter HANNAH born, a SLAVE of Robert Mumford

1752: SOLD to Thomas Stanton of Stonington-Point, Connecticut - separated from wife Meg and daughter Hannah - then about one month old.

1753/54: Thomas Stanton BUYS Meg and Hannah from Robert Mumford - for seven hundred pounds "old tenor"

1756: Son SOLOMON born, A SLAVE of Thomas Stanton

1758: son CUFF born, A SLAVE of Thomas Stanton

1759: SOLD by Thomas Stanton to Hempsted Miner (apparently as a comodity speculation - this sale was never completed) for 56 pounds - with the condition that VENTURE would have the chance to "redeem himself"

1760: (age 31) SOLD to Col. O Smith for 56 pounds; VENTURE requested of Col. Smith the chance to redeem himself and it was agreed. Venture bought his freedom on a "time payment" arrangement, with the "note" being held by a free negro friend of Venture's.

1765: (age 36) Freedom sale is completed, VENTURE BUYS HIS FREEDOM (after almost 30 years as a slave) from Col. Smith (thru his unnamed - free negro friend) for a total of seventy-one pounds two shillings. Col Smith agreed to complete the sale despite still being owed thirteen pounds eighteen shillings of the agreed price. He had, however, been paid by venture for the time allowed to "work outside" of Col. Smith's service. ... Moved from Stonington to Long-Island.

1769: (age 40) Purchased two sons Solomon and Cuff for 200 dollars each

1770: "A short time after purchasing Solomon and Cuff", purchased a negro man (to oblige him) for sixty pounds - he "ran away" prior to repaying VENTURE for his freedom.

1773: Hired out son Solomon at 17 to Charles Church, of Rhode-Island for one year for "twelve pounds plus the opportunity of getting some learning" - Solomon died at sea of the scurvy on a whaleing voyage.

1773: (age 44) PURCHASED wife Meg from Thomas Stanton for forty pounds, then pregnant with their fourth child.

1773/74: Son SOLOMON 2d born a FREE NEGRO

1774: PURCHASED a negro man for four hundred dollars ... but he chose to return to his previous master and was let go

1774: PURCHASED another negro man for twenty-five pounds and parted with him shortly later.

1775: (age 46) PURCHASED FREEDOM of daughter Hannah (age now about 23) from Ray Mumford for forty-four pounds ... and she still resided with him. Shortly after she married a free negro named Issac "a wretch of a man".

1765 - 1776: VENTURE made his living on Long-Island primarily by chopping and cording wood, transporting some of this wood to Rhode-Island.

1776: (age about 47) Sold all property on Long-Island and returned to Connecticut - moved to East Haddam, Connecticut.

1778: Purchased an additional six acres from Able Bingham at Haddam Neck contiguous to the first ten

1779: Purchased an additional seventy acres from Able Bingham at Haddam Neck and shortly after built his dwelling house on this land at Haddam Neck - overlooking The Cove on the Salmon River.

1782: (age about 54) Brought daughter Hannah to Haddam Neck farm to care for her in her illness - but she died.

1776 - 1798: VENTURE made his living at Haddam Neck by farming his land, fishing, and "Trafficking" on the River - and to Long-Island and Rhode-Island. Owning "of boats, canoes, and sail vessels, not less than twenty."

1798: (age 69) VENTURE relates his memoirs - 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 - "Tradition says Venture's amanuensis was Elisha Niles, of Chatham, who had been a school-teacher, and also a Revolutionary soldier, like one of the sons of Venture." Published at New London: Printed by C. Holt at the Bee-Office, 1798

1805: ("In ye 77th year of his age"), Sept. 19, 1805; Venture Smith passed away.

1809: ("In the 79th year of her age"), Dec. 17, 1809; Marget Smith (Meg), Relict of Venture Smith passed away

1835: VENTURE'S narrative reprinted and republished by a decendant of Venture's

1896: VENTURE'S narrative revised and republished, with "Traditions" by H.M. Selden of Haddam Neck (Middletown, Conn.: J.S. Stewart, Printer and Bookbinder, 1897)

1941: VENTURE'S narrative recounted in Yankee Township by Carl F. Price

1971: VENTURE'S narrative reprinted in Five Black Lives - Documents of Black Connecticut, Wesleyan University Press, Introduction by Arna Wendell Bontemps, 1971

1975: Yankee Township republished by the East Hampton Bicentennial Committee, containing a recount of Venture's narrative

1975: Postscripts to Yankee Township published by the East Hampton Bicentenial Committee including an expansion on Ventures story and a brief history of slavery in Connecticut.

1996: VENTURE'S narrative reprinted in Unchained Voices - An Anthology of Black Authors in the English Speaking World of the 18th Century, The University Press of Kentucky, Vincent Carretta - Editor, 1996

1998: VENTURES Story featured in the e-zine "Hometown News Publications" at - Serving These Connecticut Towns: East Haddam, Moodus, Colchester, East Hampton, Salem, Amston, Hebron, Westchester, Marlborough, Middle Haddam, Portland, Cobalt, and Haddam Neck, in the Local History section by Kevin Tulimieri. (Volume 07, Issue 06 Friday, February 13, 1998 and Volume 07, Issue 07 February 20, 1998) in the article "Salute to Black History Month - The Adventures of Venture"

1998: Following our (Rick's & his dad's) revisit to New England, including the "Old Langdon Farm and Homestead" on Haddam Neck & the remains of VENTURE'S place down on the point above The Cove of the Salmon River, Rick researched and published VENTURE'S story as a part of the section of his website dedicated to "Dad's memories".

VENTURES STORY (Index Page - 10 Links)

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