African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A city faces the slavery in its past

Portsmouth, N.H., plans a memorial and services By Michael Levenson, Globe Correspondent January 23, 2006 PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- All Portsmouth set out to do was dig a manhole on a two-lane street of clapboard homes. Then a city backhoe hit a slat of white pine in the russet mud. It was a coffin, soft, brown, and six-sided, the first remnant of a buried chapter in New England history.
About 200 coffins lay under the street near Choozy Shooz and the other shops that lend downtown Portsmouth a cosmopolitan air. No one knew much about this burial ground because the coffins held slaves, their unmarked graves paved over and mostly forgotten to make way for homes. Captured on West Africa's coast 300 years ago, slaves were used as rope-makers, shipwrights, potters, and cooks. Some were owned by the city's founders: William Whipple, a Revolutionary War commander who had a street and school named for him, kept a slave. Now, as the remains of eight slaves are stored in a locked public works building, this city that prides itself on progressivism is confronting its past. Several black residents have submitted DNA to determine if the remains are their ancestors, the city has voted to build a memorial, and officials are planning a proper funeral for the eight.


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