William L. Kidder’s book The Revolutionary World of a Free Black Man: Jacob Francis, 1754-1836 (Self-Published, 2021) tells the story of Jacob Francis of Amwell township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey who was indentured out by his free Black mother to the age of 21.
Five different men “owned his time” during his indenture and each provided a different experience for him. The last man lived in Salem, Massachusetts and Jacob lived there between 1768 and 1775 during the buildup to fighting in the American Revolution.
Jacob enlisted in a Massachusetts Continental regiment in October 1775 and served through the siege of Boston, the New York campaign, and the Battle of Trenton. When his enlistment expired on January 1st, 1777, he left the army and went back to his birthplace to find his mother and learn his family surname. He established himself in Amwell and turned out for active militia duty for the rest of the war.
In 1789 he married an enslaved woman named Mary whose master sold her to him on their wedding day. He freed her and together they raised a family of nine children. After his life of farming, Jacob and Mary moved into the village of Flemington, NJ about 1811 and lived there the remainder of their lives.
The Fort Plain Museum will host “The Revolutionary World of a Free Black Man: Jacob Francis: 1754-1836,” a virtual program by Kidder about his book on Monday, February 28th.
William “Larry” Kidder was born in California and raised in California, Indiana, New York, and New Jersey. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Allegheny College. A US Navy veteran with service in Vietnam, he considers teaching to be both his vocation and avocation, continuing in retirement after having taught for forty years in public and private schools. For thirty years, Larry has been a volunteer historian, interpreter, and draft horse teamster for Howell Living History Farm.
This program will begin at 7 pm and will be held via Zoom. Registration is required and can be completed online.
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