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Enslaved Black Residents and Their Descendants: Five Lives from Wilton’s Past — A Talk by Dr. Julie Hughes

February 5 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


On Saturday, Feb. 5, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m., the Wilton Historical Society will be holding a Black History Month presentation on Zoom.

Wilton’s first Black residents were enslaved by many of the same families whose names now define our streets, topography, and historic buildings, including the Cannons, Lamberts, Abbotts, Beldens, Raymonds, Keelers, and Marvins. We rarely know more than a name and perhaps a baptismal date, or sometimes a sale price, for these earliest enslaved peoples. Locating even these scant records – much less tracing the lives of specific individuals – is extremely challenging. Dr. Julie Hughes has conducted extensive original research and brought to light some remarkable findings for the Wilton Historical Society with the help of grant funding from the Elizabeth Raymond Ambler Trust. The lives of the few who do stand out despite the flaws in the historical record – because of their own determination, their charisma, or thanks to the capacity of bureaucracies for producing and retaining paperwork – tell fascinating, infuriating, and inspiring stories of how Black Wiltonians continually advocated for themselves (with a little help from their neighbors) from the 1700s through the early 1900s. Dr. Hughes will present fascinating information in her lecture “Enslaved Black Residents and Their Descendants: Five Lives from Wilton’s Past”. The focus will be on Philes, aka Gin (Abbott Family); Jane Manning James (Abbott Family); Charles D. King (Lambert Family); Susan Dullivan and Charlotte Gilmore.

Julie Hughes earned her PhD in South Asian history from the University of Texas at Austin. She taught at Vassar College and Queens College and is the author of Animal Kingdoms (Harvard University Press, 2013). Since moving to the Wilton area, she has become interested in local history. She is now an archivist at the Wilton History Room in the Wilton Library and has worked on history projects with the Wilton Historical Society, Ambler Farm, and the Gilbert & Bennett Cultural Center. Her most recent work for the Wilton Historical Society was research for the 2020 online exhibition, Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote (available 24/7 on the Wilton Historical Society website) as well as her talk “Caring for the Vote: Mothers and Suffragists in Wilton, Connecticut.”

Please register via email. Suggested donation is $10. A Zoom link will be sent to attendees the day before the event.


Wilton Historical Society
(203) 762-7257