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Anna Estelle Houston
Anna Estelle Houston

Here’s the next chapter of the Wasch Center lecture, continued from the departure of many African Americans from Connecticut in the 1850s

The James family was already here, and that is one of the factors that made us different and enabled us to achieve these “firsts.” They included timing; a propensity for survival/risk taking; an emphasis on education; and a reliance on Frederick Douglass’ “truth.”

We arrived some sixty years before the Great Migration began and settled in Hartford during the 1870s.

My great-grandmother Anna Estelle Houston, together with her mother, Mary Ann, and her younger brother, Charley, arrived in Connecticut from Alabama sometime in the 1850s. We don’t know exactly when, but Mary Ann died of tuberculosis in New Haven in 1857. Charley and Anna were living in Cheshire in 1860 where she worked as a servant for a Congregational minister. The Rev. David Root had been kicked out of a parish in Guilford because of his abolitionist views. He had gone as a missionary to Georgia in the 1820s and came away with a horror of slavery, which his parishioners did not share. After the war, Anna worked as a servant here and in Massachusetts, then moved to Hartford.

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