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Amos Fortune

Amos is listed in the 1790 census for Jaffrey, NH as Head of Household with 4 other free persons.

Amos Fortune, b. free in Africa; a slave in America; purchased his liberty; settled in Jaffrey, on lot 18 range 6; now (1873) in possession of Levi Pollard. He was an early settler, came to town about 1778; was a tanner by trade. He was a highly-respected citizen member of the church, and made it a present of a silver communion service. He also left a school fund for the district in which he lived. He m. Violate, whose liberty he previously purchased. He had no children. The following inscription may be seen on their headstones in the old parish burying-ground:



Sacred to the memory of Amos Fortune,
Who was born free in Africa,
A Slave in America
He purchased his liberty
Professed Christianity
Lived reputably
Died hopefully
Nov. 17, 1801 a. 91

Sacred to the memory
Of Violate
By Sale, the slave of
Amos Fortune,
By Marriage, his wife
By her fidelity,
His friend and solace
She died his widow
Sept. 13, 1802 a. 73

Source: History of the Town of Jaffrey, NH. From the Date of the Masonian Charter to the Present Time, 1749 – 1880, with a Genealogical Register of the Jaffrey Families, and an Appendix, Containing the Proceedings of the Centennial Celebration in 1873, by Daniel B. Cutter, M.D. 1881

Amos Fortune was an African-American prince named Atmun. When he was 15 in 1710, he was sold into slavery to a man by the name of Caleb Copeland, in Boston, who treated him very nicely. Caleb taught Amos the trade of tanning and Caleb’s wife Celia taught him how to read and write. Caleb Copeland died before giving Amos his freedom and at the age of 30 Amos was sold to Mr. Ichabod Richardson, Tanner, of Woburn for Sixty-two pounds sterling.. Ichabod was also good to Amos. Amos became a free man May 9, 1769 at 59 years old. Amos continued his work as a tanner.

He married his first wife, Lily about 1773/74. She was a slave for Jonathan Twombly, but Amos bought her freedom for £ 20. Lily died within their first year of marriage.

His second wife, Lydia Somerset was a slave of Josiah Bowers, and Amos bought her freedom on June 23, 1778. Lydia also died a year later.

He married third to Violet, whom he purchased from James Baldwin for 50 pounds. The purchase price also included Violet’s 4 year old daughter, Celyndia. They were married Nov. 10, 1779, They moved to Jaffrey about 1780/81 and rented a piece of land and opened a small tannery. After many hard-working years, he managed to finally buy a farm.

In his will he left a hundred dollars for the church to purchase a silver communion service. He left two hundred and forty-three dollars for the school of the town to use in any way it saw fit to educate its sons and daughters.

Amos and Violate are buried in the churchyard in Jaffrey, NH.

Source: “Amos Fortune, Free Man” by Elizabeth Yates 1950


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