Based on careful research conducted over many years by Patricia Q. Wall, this book presents the first detailed look at the lives of more than four hundred black individuals who lived in Kittery and Berwick, Maine, from the seventeenth century until about 1820. Pat has patiently combed the available public and private documents to find whatever scraps of information had been recorded about these African Americans. Because most lived their lives in the shadows of historical record, much has been lost. As Pat reveals, however, in addition to the personal trajectories of their own lives, they also played important roles in the life of their towns. Thanks to her research, we have a much better understanding of the importance of the Black, Native American, and mixed-race populations in southern Maine, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.
New England eighteenth-century objects with a history of ownership by an enslaved person are very rare. A nineteenth-century inscription on the underside of this table’s top is one such object. The note reads: “This table came from / Sir William Pepperell. / He gave it to his slave / Molly Miles.” Research by Patricia Q. Wall, published in her Lives of Consequence (Portsmouth Marine Society Press, 2017), identifies Molly Miles (ca. 1718-1827) as an enslaved person owned by Sir William Pepperrell of Kittery Point, Maine, and later members of his family. Molly died in the Eliot almshouse at nearly 108 years of age. She “retained the faculties of her mind to the last, walking perfectly erect, with a firm step, and has not a wrinkle on her face, and could distinctly see to read her Bible without glasses.” We are fortunate to have this material reminder of her life.
Table (“Molly’s table”), Seacoast area, ca. 1750 with later additions. Maple; two replaced legs, oak; H. 27 in., Diam. top 27 in. Gift of Alan and Anne Cutter (2017.2).
Coming this April…
We’re working hard in preparation for our 2021 season.
for sneak peeks of all the fabulous works of art that will be on display this spring and summer!