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Long-lost home of “King Pompey” may have been found in New England

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Northeastern Professor Kabria Baumgartner digging at the site of King Pompey's remains.

Newsweek, July 2024

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of what they believe was the 18th century home of “King Pompey”—an enslaved African who later won his freedom—in New England. Researchers identified the likely location of the homestead on the banks of the Saugus River in Massachusetts, where the man, named Pompey Mansfield, lived with his wife Phylis (or possibly named Phebe) more than 260 years ago. Historical sources indicate that Mansfield was a prominent figure in the Black community who bought land and built a stone house in what is now Saugus, Massachusetts, becoming one of the first Black property owners in colonial New England. At his home, Mansfield hosted free and enslaved Blacks from the region during an annual event known as “Black Election Day.”

“King Pompey was an esteemed leader in the Black community but his home and property have always been a mystery,” Kabria Baumgartner, Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies at Northeastern University, who was involved in the investigations, said in a press release. “The history of enslaved and free Africans in colonial New England is not well-known in part because few archival records exist, and those that do are often written by or from the perspective of enslavers,” Baumgartner told Newsweek. “Archaeological work adds incredible depth and dimension not only to Pompey’s story but to the Black experience in colonial New England as a whole.”

Read more at Newsweek.

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