Over 50 people gathered at the Kent Memorial Library on Monday morning, April 10, to recognize the installation of a Witness Stone for Tamer, an enslaved Black girl purchased in 1777 by Suffield businessman Luther Loomis. His mansion home was located at the present site of the Suffield Veterans Memorial; his commercial business was just to the south of his home.
Captured children were considered useful as they grew and were trained. Local historians believe Tamer was employed in the Loomis household and also in his store. She was later sold to Solomon Smith of the family of Venture Smith, a noted African-American (not of Suffield), now well known for having published the story of his capture in Africa, his purchase of his own freedom, and his considerable success as a Connecticut entrepreneur. August 10 was celebrated nationally as Venture Smith Freedom Day, as well.
The program presented live at the library was shared by many more on Zoom. Informative comments were delivered by Suffield Academy students of teacher Bill Sullivan’s American Studies class and also by First Selectman Colin Moll and other Suffield officials, by two representatives of Suffield clergy, by descendants of Venture Smith, and by State Representative Patricia Wilson Pheanious, co-chair of the Witness Stone project and former State Commissioner of Social Services.
The installation program was closed by Sonia Hill, daughter of Third Baptist Church Deacon Chairman William Hill. Sonya sang “Troubles of the World,” a gospel song once sung by enslaved Africans as a message of hope and potential freedom.