by Ava Pascarella
“One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it… All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war,” said President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, during the end of the Civil War (Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln). Unlike most people at the time, Abraham Lincoln did not address slavery as just a southern issue. He understood that slavery occurred in the North as well, including the small town of Guilford, Connecticut, which is where David and Ruth Naughty lived. The Naughtys were merchants who sold, bought, and traded property, such as furniture, supplies, and even people. Thus, they purchased two young slaves, a negro boy and negro girl, named Montros and Phillis for 190 pounds. Montros was bought from Captain S. Waterhouse, while Phillis was bought from Captain Peter King (Hall).
The two youthful slaves grew up together serving for David and Ruth Naughty, so they got married and became spouses. Altogether, they had a total of eight children named Pompey, the first Caesar, the second Caesar, Flora, Moses, Aaron, Abel, and Candace. To go into more detail, Pompey was born on January 23, 1729/30; the first Caesar was born in February of 1732; the second Caesar was born on May 6, 1736; Flora was born on January 12, 1739; Moses was born on April 30, 1741; Aaron was born on September 25, 1743; Abel was born on January 20, 1748/49; and Candace was born on June 2, 1751 (Connecticut Vital Records). It is evident that Phillis needed to give birth to multiple children so that the Naughtys would have more slaves when her and Montros died. Unfortunately, three of their children died at a very young age, with one of them not even living for a week. Both Caesar’s passed away too early, with the first Caesar dying three days after his birth, and the second Caesar dying on June 12, 1738, at age two. Abel, another son of Montros and Phillis, perished at eleven-years-old (Connecticut Vital Records). Evidently, these deaths had a consequential impact on Montros and his family, since losing three children at such early ages was very difficult.
Furthermore, out of all of Montros and Phillis’ children, only one of them had offspring, making him the only grandchild. Their eldest daughter, Flora, had a son named Caesar, as it was a family name. He was born on June 22, 1765, and died on April 27, 1817 (Burgis). Sadly, in 1771, he had to suffer the loss of his mother at the young age of six. To go into more detail about the kids, two of their children, Moses and Candace, had legal documents with one being an indenture and the other a will. The indenture of Moses as a slave includes that he must work for Amos Fowler until his death without training, payment, or time limit. On the other hand, Fowler must pay for Moses’ food, drinks, clothes, and care for illness and health (Fowler). The other document was the will of Candace. During her last days, she wrote her last will since she was very sick and losing memory. In the piece of writing, she gives the only property she owns to the children of her nephew, Cesar Rogers: Abel, Flora, and Clarissa (Dorothy Whitefield Historic Society).
Before he passed away in 1739, David Naughty, the owner of Montros and Phillis, wrote his will on July 26, 1738 (Probate Court). In his will, David Naughty promised that Montros and Phillis would be freed once his wife died. However, he did not grant freedom to Pompey and the other children who were servants, so they continued to serve for his family. Also, David listed everything that would be given to Montros, from a cow to acres of land. He was endowed with money, land, and the Naughty’s house on Ruth’s death. More specifically, Montros received a stable house with a cow and calf, furniture, necessary supplies, a house, and an estate that would support the financial needs of his family when the Naughtys were not able (Probate Court). Montros was also given two-and-a-half acres of land in Nutplains, an area in Guilford. Additionally, David Naughty allowed any close relative of Montros to have access to this land, including his immediate family who each received around $27 (Property Records). Approximately three decades later, David Naugthy’s widow, Ruth Naughty, wrote her will and included what she would leave to the family of Montros. In her will, Ruth Naughty officially claimed that Montros and Phillis were free from her ownership, but their children were not. Instead of enjoying freedom, they got split up and sent live in different homes as servants for regular religious families (Probate Court). Ruth fulfilled the promise that her deceased husband had made just 33 years earlier. Montros and Phillis were rewarded with money, many cooking supplies, and furniture to go with their new house and more. However, while the couple was gaining all of these benefits, their daughter, Flora, passed away (Burgis).
After the deaths of Montros on June 3, 1785, and Phillis on October 7, 1794, their lives and legacies were still remembered through their descendants, such as Elymas P. Rogers and Bertram Wadsworth Wilson. To commence, Elymas P. Rogers was born on February 10, 1815, in Madison, Connecticut, as the great-great-grandson of Montros and Phillis. From the day he was born, he had wanted to help people in Africa because it was where his ancestors originated. His life was tough as a child, since he was the only black boy in his neighborhood and he had to live with strangers. Yet, he still managed to attend Sabbath school to become a communicant for a congregation in Hartford, Connecticut in 1833. To follow his dreams, he became a presbyterian minister and an active member of the African Colonization Society and then traveled to Sierra Leone to preach during the Sabbath. Also, with lots of hard work, he was permitted to proclaim the Gospel in Africa. Later, he tried to free as many African-Americans before the Civil War. With all of this passion he put into helping Africans, Elymas died in Africa while looking for homes of freed slaves (Wilson).
Just like how Elymas P. Rogers was a descendant of Montros and Phillis through Flora and her son, so was Bertram Wadsworth Wilson. He was born in Virginia on September 20, 1921, and died at the age of 81 on July 9, 2002, in Ashford, Connecticut. However, he accomplished many things during the time he was living, including being a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and shooting down four German planes in World War II. Furthermore, he fought in the military for the Korean War, as well as the Vietnam War. Because of his incredible achievements in the military, Bertram retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1968. He was also granted the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross for his prodigious service when he fought wholeheartedly (Kearns). It is clear that Montros has and will be remembered through all of his descendants and their accomplishments in life. They overcame that they were African-American and persevered through obstacles that got in the way of their dreams.
To sum up, even though the Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal,” the nation was going against its own words by depriving people of their freedom just because of the color of their skin. Slaves were treated in an inhumane way that limited their rights, like Montros and his family. They were treated as property by being bought and sold, and having to work with very little or no pay. However, Montros lived his life with his wife, Phillis, and had eight children. He even had a chance to turn things around when he was given a house, land, money, and livestock after his masters perished. Just like Montros, his descendants were hard-workers and made their life useful, from preaching in Africa to becoming a soldier. Overall, Montros and Phillis were servants along with their children to David and Ruth Naughty, but they still deserve remembrance.