“He was Bought at Public Sale” Slave Life Explored at Johnson Hall Saturday 8/20

Posted by Kerry Nelson on August 18, 2011 in Archaeology, History |
From Darlene Rogers, Johnson Hall State Historic Site:
(Johnstown, NY August 13, 2011)…….The lives of African slaves from Johnson Hall and other 18th century properties in the Mohawk Valley will be explored in a special program at Johnson Hall on Saturday, August 20 at 1:30pm.


“He was Bought at Public Sale” will begin with an overview of the past research done on the slave history of Johnson Hall, presented by former Site Manager Wanda Burch.  Primary sources document many slaves’ names and physical appearances, the variety of household, farm and personal tasks performed by them, the surroundings in which they lived and worked, and the conditions under which they were purchased and sold by, or inherited from, Sir William Johnson.


Following this introductory talk, visitors will be introduced to Jack, a slave of the Mabee Farm, who will provide the audience with a first-person narrative of life as one of the lesser-known residents of the 18th century Mohawk Valley.  Jack will be interpreted by historical re-enactor Clifford Oliver Mealy.


Mealy cultivated his love of history during his years as photographer for the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, under which the State Historic Sites are operated.  For the last 20 years Mealy has brought history to life through his interpretations of actual historical figures, from Jack at the Mabee Farm (1757) to Solomon Northrup and Frederick Douglass.  He has enhanced the interpretive programming of many historic sites including Schuyler Mansion and Ten Broeck Mansion in Albany, Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction, Knickerbocker Mansion in Schaghiticoke, The Old Fort House in Fort Edward and the Saratoga National Battlefield site.


The presentation will be held outside on the grounds of the historic Johnson Hall estate.  While there is no admission fee, donations to support the event will be appreciated.  To accommodate this special program, there will be no guided tours of Johnson Hall between 1pm and 3pm on Saturday.


“He Was Bought at Public Sale” is made possible in part by a Decentralization grant of public funds awarded to The Friends of Johnson Hall by the New York Council on the Arts, administered by the Tri-County Arts Council.

Johnson Hall State Historic Site is located at 139 Hall Avenue in historic Johnstown, just off West State Street (State Highway 29 West).  For more information on special events at Johnson Hall, visit www.nysparks.com or www.friendsofjohnsonhall.org, or write darlene.rogers@oprhp.state.ny.us to be placed on the Site’s emailing list.

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