With roots in America going back to the colonial era, the question becomes inevitable: Did any of our ancestors own slaves? The serious research of family genealogy means accepting the good and the bad, the expected and the unexpected. The uncomfortable truth is, yes, there are confirmed slave owners in our family tree.
Antoine DuChesne (10th great-grandfather of Richard, James, Gary, Lisa, Carl, Jane, Bruce, Cathy, Ron, Stacey, Matt and Sandy) was born in 1640 in Saintonge, France, and died on his farm on Staten Island in 1712. In his will Antoine leaves “to my son Michael… the Negro boy, Mink.”
Abraham Manee (1747-1824; 8th great-grandfather of Richard, et al.) is shown in the first United States census, taken in 1790, as owning two slaves on his farm in Westfield, Staten Island.
Abraham Woglom (1759-1799; 6th great-grandfather of Richard, et al.), also of Westfield, is shown as owning one slave in the 1790, 1800 and 1810 U.S. census. His father, also named Abraham (1731-?; 7th great-grandfather of Richard, et al.), owned five slaves in 1790, four in 1800 and an unspecified number in 1810.
Both John Lay (1717-1792; 7th great-grandfather of Richard, et al.) and John Sill (1710-1796; 7th great-grandfather of Richard, et al.) are shown in the 1790 U.S. census as having one slave in their households in Lyme, Connecticut.
We can render no judgment on these people for living in the times they did, nor can we limn their personal beliefs or their attitudes toward their slaves from the circumstantial record. Slavery was a tragic fact of life in colonial America, and these people lived there.
Slavery was abolished in the state of New York in 1827 and in Connecticut in 1848.