Jeffrey Brace

Living in Poultney, Rutland County, with three other free persons in 1791 census.  I do not find him in the 1800 census.

He served in the Revolution from Connecticut and received a pension.  In 1810 he dictated his autobiography, The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nicknamed Jeffery Brace, to Benjamin F. Prentiss, Esq.; this has been edited, with an Introduction by Kari J. Winter in 2004, and published by The University of Wisconsin Press.

In the above book there is testimony that Jeffery was originally called Jeffery Stiles after his master, Benjamin Stiles.  While he was in the service, he was sometimes called Pomp London.  He applied for his pension 4 April 1818, signing Jeffery Brace by mark.  Another document is signed Jeffery X Brace Stiles, dated 3 July 1821.  In this document he states he is completely blind.  He claims he has no family; he may have meant no family living with him.

Born in West Africa around 1742, Jeffery Brace was captured by slave traders at 16 and shipped to Barbados, where he was sold to a New England ship captain.  After fighting as an enslaved sailor in the Seven Years War, Brace was taken to New Haven, CT, and sold to a Yankee Puritan.  Sixteen years later he enlisted in the Continental Army in hopes of winning his manumission.  After military service, he was honorably discharged and was freed from slavery.  In 1784 he moved to Vermont, the first state to make slavery illegal.  There he married, bought a farm, and raised a family.  Although literate, he was blind when he narrated his life story to antislavery lawyer, Benjamin Prentiss.  Brace died in 1827, a well-respected abolitionist with legendary powers of memory.  [From introduction on back cover of book.]

Between 1784 and 1789 Jeffery Brace bought uncleared land in Poultney, Rutland County, VT.  He worked in Poultney, Dorset and Manchester.  He married Susannah Dublin, an African-born widow.  They cleared and farmed Brace’s land in Poultney.  In 1789 there was a major famine in Vermont.  He supported his family by carrying iron on his back over the mountains to Manchester and returning to Poultney with grain.  In 1802 they moved to Sheldon, Franklin County, VT, where in 1804 he acquires 50 acres of land from Samuel B. Sheldon.  The following year he returns the 50 acres to Sheldon for his pledge of $250.  He is baptized in Georgia, VT 6 June 1805 and joins the Baptist Church.  On 19 March 1807 Susannah Dublin Brace dies, and on 20 April 1827, he dies in Georgia, VT.

Jeffery and Susan Brace had at least one daughter and two sons.  He purchased land with the daughter’s husband in Georgia, VT.  The sons were named Jeff and Ishmael and were born before 1790.  Jeff married a woman named Diana and apparently died before 1830 when the U.S. census lists Diana Brace as a head of household in St. Albans.

The Poultney, VT town records were all destroyed in a fire about 1860, so there are no vital records or property records to check.