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A Community of Diverse Races and Ethnic Heritages

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

African-American Memorial

African American Monument

“Sacred to the Memory of the Three Hundred or more AFRICAN AMERICANS, Free People, Slaves, and five Black Governors Who rest in Unmarked Graves in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640-1810”

Africans, African Americans, and Native Americans were part of the Hartford community as early as 1639, yet no stone commemorated the graves of more than 300 and perhaps as many as 500 of their number. In 1998 local students initiated research that led to the installation of this marker in their memory.

Most people of color in colonial Hartford, including Native Americans, were enslaved.  Most enslaved people in Hartford achieved freedom in the decades following the American Revolution, some in return for having fought for independence.

One of the first free people of color known to live in Hartford was Philip Moore, Sr., “a Negro.” The record of his interment in the Ancient Burying Ground on April 13, 1695, identified him as “Goodman Moore,” a sign of respect. Moore was living in Hartford as early as 1676, but how and when he came to Hartford, whether he arrived as a free man or was enslaved and later freed is unknown. He prospered financially, leaving at his death an estate that included a house and more than 60 acres of land. 

A project sponsored by the Ancient Burying Ground Association created “Uncovering Their History: African, African-American, and Native-American Burials in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640-1815.” This in-depth, scholarly study produced a searchable web site of all African, African-American, and Native American burials for which evidence has been found in the Ancient Burying Ground. It also includes, among other features, personal profiles of some individuals, narratives of the people in the graveyard, family trees, and connections to white Hartford residents. 

William Knox, 1787

“W K. In Memory of Lieut. William Knox who died 30th April 1787 in the 55th Year of his Age. Born in Strabane in the County of Tyrone in Ireland . . . ”

William Knox was among the immigrants from countries such as France, Scotland, Ireland, and Germany who immigrated to Hartford after the initial surge of English colonization in the 1600s. Knox considered his Irish roots important enough to have them recorded in his epitaph. Knox ran “an elegant and well accommodated” tavern in Hartford. 

Fransis Duplessy, 1731

“Here Lieth the Body of Mr. Fransis Duplessy Who Deceased July 3d 1731 in ye 38th Year of his age. Born in London.”

Fransis Duplessy’s epitaph declared that he had been born in London. He traveled to Barbados before arriving in Hartford.

John Beauchamp, 1740

“Here lies interred the Body of Mr. John Beauchamp who Died Nov the 14th 1740 in ye 88th year of his Age.”

Among the immigrants to Hartford from countries not part of Great Britain was John Beauchamp. Beauchamp was a merchant in Paris when he fled the prosecution of Protestants, known as Huguenots, in France. After stops in Rhode Island and Boston, he settled in Hartford, where he prospered as a businessman.

Learn more about the stories of people buried at the Ancient Burying Ground: