Middlebury’s African- and Native-American residents



Using the United States census as a guide, experts estimate the U.S. population was almost 326 million as of July 1, 2016. People of color accounted for 13.3 percent of the population, or over 43 million. From 1790 to 1840, the designation of Indian or Native American was not included in the decennial federal census; it began with the 1850 federal census. Both groups were excluded from privileges spelled out for white males in the U. S. Constitution.

Middlebury was founded in 1807, and the 1810 U.S. census for our town listed “free white persons” and “all other free persons,” as well as a category of slaves. One slave was listed in the household of Stiles Thompson. Another noted Middleburian, Larmon Townsend, our first town clerk, numbered one slave in his household. There was “Sampson & family” with nine individuals in the slave category, as well as the family of “Sharp” with 10 individuals. Finally, the Rev. Mark Mead had one slave in his household, making a total of 22 slaves in Middlebury in 1810. All may have been African American, but many Native Americans also were kept as slaves.

The 1820 U.S. census enumerated a total of 21 free persons of color for Middlebury. The 1830 U.S. census listed only four emancipated persons of color for Middlebury, and the 1840 U.S. census enumerated as free persons of color the Middlebury household of Stephen Jackson with three males under 10, one female under 10, and Jackson himself, who was listed as between the ages of 24 and 35. Finding biographical information about Native- and African-American Middleburians is most difficult, but one individual stands out – Andrew Jackson, also known as Andrew Harrison.

Andrew Jackson was born in Middlebury about 1834 and died at the age of 83 in Hartford in 1917. He was a Native American, ostensibly from the Mohican (also seen as Mahican) tribe centered around Albany, N. Y. (not to be confused with the Mohegan tribes of eastern Connecticut). From about 1913, newspapers across the country listed Andrew Harrison as the “last of the Mohicans.” Whether he was or not, his Native-American identity was well established.

Andrew Harrison is listed on this naval enrollment record from 1863. (National Archives image courtesy Ancestry.com)

His father was probably the Stephen Jackson found in the 1840 U.S. census, and his mother, listed on his death record, was Patti Lowe, a member of another large Middlebury Native-American family. Andrew enlisted as Andrew Harrison (for unknown reasons) in the Union Navy during the Civil War, serving on the receiving ship “North Carolina,” and subsequently the “Vermont,” “E. P. Hale” and the “Princeton.”

More than 28,000 Native Americans served on both sides during the Civil War, and the terms of surrender at Appomattox were written by Brig. General Ely S. Parker, a Native American (Wikipedia). Andrew’s last ship was the ill-fated bark “Kingfisher,” which ran aground, but not before its forces, commanded by Captain John Clark Dutch, saw valiant service, capturing many Confederate soldiers. Andrew was married twice, had at least four children, and was primarily a farmer all his life. He certainly was a veteran worth honoring in Middlebury.

Bob Rafford is the Middlebury Historical Society president and Middlebury’s municipal historian. To join or contact the society, visit MiddleburyHistoricalSociety.org or call Bob at 203-206-4717.


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