By: Theo Freeman
Guilford, a small town on the Connecticut shoreline, in New Haven County, founded in 1639, is known for many positive historical events that shape what it is today. However, there are also many negative events that lots of people aren’t aware of. Slavery was one of these events. When you think of slavery, you don’t typically think of Guilford, Connecticut, but there definitely was slavery in Guilford. In addition, most of the unfortunate slaves involved have been forgotten. Guilford wouldn’t be the great town it is today without its history, so it’s important that these slaves are remembered and recognized.
One of these slaves was Candace Beau. Candace found a way to be her own person, even as a slave. She also wrote her own will which most slaves didn’t do. Some people may think this is impossible, but she did it.
Candace was born on June 2, 1751, in Guilford (Connecticut Vital). Her mother was a slave named Phillis, and her father, a slave named Montros (Probate Court, 1771). They were both of African-American descent (Burgis, 1747). Also, Candace was Christian (Guilford Property, 1821). She had four siblings: Aaron, Pompey, Flora, and Moses. Her family was owned by David and Ruth Naughty. In their will, the Naughtys promised a house to be built for Montros, and his family on Nut Plains (Yester-Years of Guilford).
David died in 1739 before Candace, Flora, and Aaron were born, and his will said that any other children born of Phillis, (also Pompey) will be freed after Ruth dies (Guilford Probate, 1738). Ruth disagreed with this, thinking that the kids should be indentured instead, which is what she did. In her will she sent Candace to live with Ebenezer Parmelee and his wife Ann, at the Hyland House (Bryan). After they died she willed they will be given to Hooker and Ruth Bartlett. Ruth sent Pompey to Ebenezer Dowd, Aaron to Levi Hubbard, and Moses to Amos Fowler, all Guilford citizens. This conveys paternalism because Ruth made the decisions of where the siblings will go even though they were supposed to be free. She did allow Montros and Phillis to be free in addition (Probate Court 1771). Ruth Naughty lived on the green in downtown Guilford after David’s death (Bryan).
After Ruth died in 1773, Candace moved to the Hyland house (on Boston Street in downtown Guilford), in 1773, when she was twenty-two years old. She lived there with the Parmalees. She did have goods that she brought with her when she moved, including bedding, pillows, sheets, iron pots, iron skillets, plates, spinning wheel and more. From this, it can be inferred that Candace cooked (pots, plates) (Bryan). Also, another skill she probably had was making clothes, since she had a spinning wheel. When the Parmalees died, she was supposed to live with the Bartletts, but coincidentally, they had died too (Griswold). Since there was no other place in Ruth’s will stating where Candace should go, there was no other option. Candace was freed when she was thirty-eight years old (Griswold).
After being freed, she washed things and made wedding cakes (Griswold). This shows that she was more than just a slave in her life, she made choices of what she wanted to do (cakes) and was capable of working on her own. She utilized her skills (cleaning and cooking) to succeed making wedding cakes and washing things.
On September 30, 1792, when she was forty-one, she married Tombo. He was the servant of Thomas Bray (Connecticut Church Records). They did not have any children.
Meanwhile, on April 7, 1802, Montros sold his property for a total of twenty-six dollars and sixty-seven cents. This doesn’t seem like much now, but at the time it was a lot. Evidently, the value of money has changed a lot from 1802, to now. The sale shows how much land there is (shows North South, property) and what the buyers get (Guilford Property, 1802).
After many years, on September 27, 1826, Candace passed away, at seventy-five years old, in Guilford (Burgis 1747). In her will, she gives her property to the three children of her nephew (Cesar Rodgers) Abel, Flora, and Clarissa (Guilford Property 1821). The fact that she had a will also shows that she is unique, most slaves didn’t have wills.
Candace is one of many forgotten people in Guilford’s history that played a huge part in Guilford’s history. She made her own choices based on her strengths, even though she was a slave. Guilford may seem like a boring town, but when you dive into its history you’ll find the exact opposite. It homed strong people like Candace, her siblings, and many other slaves, who have shaped the town into its current self.
Candace Fact Sheet
Adapted from Team 8-1 Research
Date of Birth: June 2, 1751
Place of Birth: Guilford, New Haven, CT Colony
Name of Parents: Montros and Phillis, enslaved by Ruth Naughty (Connecticut Vital)
Names of Siblings: Aaron born September 25,1743, Abel born January 20, 1748/9, died at 10 years old September 18, 1759, Ceazer born February 1732 and died three days later, Ceazer born May 6, 1736, died February 12, 1738, Flora born January 12, 1741, Moses born April 30, 1741, Pompey born January 23, 1729/30. (Connecticut Vital)
Family Details: Candace was the second daughter of Montros and Phillis. When she reached twenty years of age, she was apparently indentured by Mrs. Ruth Naughty to Ebenezer and Ann Parmelee for life gaining Mrs. Naughty about £12 a year for the remainder of her life. (Fowler)
Spouse: Thomas Bow, aka Tombo, son of Tombo and Pender. Married Sept. 30, 1792 (CT Church Records)
Baptism/Church Membership: She married at North Guilford Congregational Church and joined Christ Episcopal Church in 1807. (CT Church Records)
Places Enslaved: On the Guilford Green where Guilford Savings Bank is today, in the Nut Plains neighborhood where the Naughtys owned farm, at the Hyland House on Boston Street. (Probate Court)
Owners: Ruth Naughty, Ebenezer and Ann Parmelee, Hooker and Ruth Bartlett (Probate Court)
Work Performed/Skills: Wedding cake baker, spinner, cook, laundry washer. (Bryan)
Emancipated: By Hooker Bartlett Jr. January 18, 1793
Later Life/ Death
Date of Death: March 1, 1812
Place of Death: Guilford, Connecticut