Witness Stone to be Installed during Juneteenth

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Photo by Bill Sulliven

East Haddam’s Congregational Church’s cemetery, where historians thought Tamer was buried with other members of the Venture Smith family. In the center, the stones of Venture and his wife, at the left, Venture’s son, Solomon’s.

The Suffield Historical Society’s (SHS) online class will ceremoniously install a Witness Stone memorial for Tamer (1770-1829) on June 19 at 10:00 a.m. In collaboration with its community partner, ABAR Suffield, the SHS class will gather speakers and musicians on the town’s gazebo on the north green and be a component of Suffield’s first Juneteenth program. Featured guests include descendants of Venture Smith, who was Tamer’s father-in-law. The SHS Facebook page will provide updated details about the installation ceremony.

A Witness Stone memorial is a small (4” x 4”) bronze plaque that acts as an intriguing public history place marker. With some insightful biographical vitals, Witness Stone memorials honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved colonials who helped build our community. Tamer’s memorial will be the 71st Witness Stone installation.  During the 2020-21 school year, students at eighteen schools in thirteen communities participated in the Witness Stones Project.

Attend the installation ceremony to learn the two chapters of Tamer’s narrative that members of the online class discovered this year and impressed the field of Venture Smith’s scholars. Also discover more about Venture Smith’s famous narrative with its patterns of abuse, and Venture’s resilient spirit that enabled him to resist the dehumanization of slavery. He was able to buy his and his family’s freedom and establish a 130-acre homestead with a blacksmith shop and forge, large dock and dry dock, and multiple homes for his children’s families. Venture Smith amassed enough wealth to purchase a large, decorative headstone that marks his family plot in East Haddam’s Congregational Church Cemetery which read, “Sacred to the Memory of Venture Smith an African. Tho the son of a King he was kidnapped & sold as a slave but by his industry he acquired Money to purchase his Freedom who Died Sep 19th 1805 in the 77th year of his Age.”

Livestream will be available. All COVID Protocols will be followed. Please stay tuned to Suffield Historical Society’s Facebook page for more details.

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