Derby History Quiz

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Diversity in Derby History

Played dominant role in election of Black Governors of Connecticut


The Freeman Homestead at Derby Neck (photo courtesy of Derby Historical Society)

2012 Update

The Valley Independent Sentinel did an updated story on the Black Governors and an archaeological dig in Osbornedale State Park designed to help enhance knowledge of the Governors and their Derby roots. Click here to read.

Though not much publicized, there was slavery at one time in Derby and throughout the state. Slaves first appeared in Connecticut in the 1620's and the practice was first recognized legally in 1650. In 1774, Connecticut barred the importation of slaves and in 1783 passed gradual emancipation laws which outlawed the practice and turned former slaves into "freemen."
One slave in Derby by the name of Quash came to be known as Quash Freeman when his master, Agur Tomlinson, set him free and gave him the use of 30 acres of land at Derby Neck including the homestead pictured above. Quash and his son, Roswell Quash Freeman and two other Derby men going by the name of Tobias (one of whom was the father of Ebeneezer Basset, the first native-born, Afro-American U.S. Ambassador) went on to hold the unique, pseudo-governmental title of "Black Governor" in Connecticut. Recently, there has been a great deal of scholarly research conducted to examine the practice to determine its proper placed in Connecticut history. You can read more about the practice and see a listing of the governors here. What is truly amazing is the incredible place that Derby held in the history of the practice as no other city provided as many Black Governors as did Derby!

Correct answers were received from: Ann Searles, Joe Melewski, Marc J. Garofalo, John Millea, Jim Bartlett, Raymond M. Petrillo, Cyndi Poppa, Joan Driscoll, Joe Dedo, Robert Hyder, Fred Grant, Millie Fatterusso, Randy Ritter, Lynne Anglace, Cheryl Wakeman, Dave Petz, Eileen Krugel, Mary Dave deRosa, Lou Boroski, Marsha Pettengill, Ken Dupke, Ray Allen (DHS '75), Joe Duggan, Paul Comkowycz, Rick Dunne, Nick from Terryville, Eddie Calvert, Kimberley Shelton, KIM Dupke, Joe Pinto and Bob Ahearn.

To see our other earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.