Previous Site of the Month: May 2011
Boston Trowtrow Gravesite
Old Burying Ground, 69 Main Street, Norwich, CT 06360
Elected by Connecticut’s black population between 1749 and 1856, Connecticut’s twenty-six Black Governors were a forgotten part of the state’s history until 1998, when they were brought to the attention of the Connecticut Historical Commission (now Commission on Culture & Tourism) by eighth grade students from Lewis J. Fox Middle School in Hartford. During three years of archival research, the students and their teacher uncovered evidence that more than 300 Americans of African descent were interred in unmarked graves in Hartford's Ancient Burying Ground, one of the oldest cemeteries in Connecticut. Included among them were five of the twenty-two "Black Governors” identified in the students research. To commemorate these forgotten souls, the students designed, selected materials, and raised funds for a memorial marker and slate tablet inscribed with their names and interment dates. The marker now stands in the cemetery.
In 2001, the Connecticut Historical Commission hired a consultant to further explore the topic of the Black Governors. Starting with the names of the twenty-two governors identified by the students’ research, the aim of the new research was to identify and evaluate sites associated with the governors for possible inclusion on the Connecticut Freedom Trail. The additional research revealed that from 1749 to 1856, twenty-six black governors were elected by the black population of Connecticut. In addition, the gravesites of Boston Trowtrow of Norwich and Flora of New London were located and added to the Freedom Trail.
As research continues and new resources are found, it is hoped that a clearer and more accurate account of the role of Connecticut's Black Governors in African American society will be revealed. Most of the resources currently used to explain the phenomenon are written from the perspectives of contemporary (1749-1856) white historians and newspapers. But, until the now-silent black voices, those of the Black Governors or the African Americans who actually participated in the phenomenon are heard, the real story of Connecticut's Black Governors will never be known.
Connecticut's Black Governors 1749-1856 (PDF 6KB)