Telling New Stories

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

This research project was conducted by Dr. Katherine Hermes to focus on two aspects of people’s lives in the Ancient Burying Ground: connections with the West Indies trade and women’s history. Both research projects include primary source research and genealogy with an emphasis on people of color and their experiences. 

Ties to the West Indies

Everyone knows Connecticut had ties to the West Indies (we’re the Nutmeg State, after all), but we often don’t know the personal stories of the individuals who straddled both places in the Atlantic World. This includes Connecticut merchants looking for new markets and products; enslaved people from Antigua serving in households in Hartford; a West Indian enslaved man brought to Guilford who later opened a thriving grocery story in Hartford; and a French woman fleeing the Haitian Revolution. Primary sources such as shipping news from the Hartford Courant, as well as documents from probate records, newspapers, vital records, and account books hold the keys to uncovering this history.

artwork by Cora Marshall

The Women in Hartford’s Old Burying Ground

A large obelisk lists the names of the male founders of Hartford buried in the Ancient Burying Ground, but this is not the whole story. This research looks at the lives of women, ranging from the daughters, wives, and widows of those men to the Native, African, and African-American female servants and enslaved women who managed the households and kept Hartford running.

Explore the lives of people like Ruth Moore who was the first woman of color to leave a will in colonial Hartford, and Sarah Onepenny, a leading elder of the Wangunk.

Painting at left by

Funding has been provided by CT Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.