Forgotten part of state's history
Dutch kept American Indian slaves in 18th-century Catskills, documents acquired by the State Library reveal
By PAUL GRONDAHL, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, September 14, 2008
ALBANY -- Historians had long known of this dark chapter in New York's history, but an 18th-century document recently acquired by the State Library adds details to the fact that Indian slaves were kept in the Catskills.
A 1720 deed of transfer of a large Dutch farm in Orange County near present-day Goshen detailed legal descriptions of the land -- and human property: "William an Indian Man ... Lawrence an Indian Man ... Casar a Negro Man."
The transfer was among three boxes of documents contained in the Wawayanda Patent Papers (1705-1840), recently purchased from Harold Decker, a private collector and historian in Orange County. The price was not disclosed.
"It's the first document I've seen that specifically names Indian slaves," said Paul Mercer, senior librarian in the manuscripts and special collections division.
(Mr. Mercer should do more genealogy research or digitize their collections so more genealogist can do distance research - we've known Indians were also slaves for quite some time....:))
"There was a wide spectrum of status in the term of slavery in that era," Rafferty said. It ranged from indigent white people who signed on as indentured servants to get out of debt to those equated as property, freely bought and sold, such as Africans and Americans Indians.
(actually most original documents distinguish between and clearly state if one was an indentured servant - indentured servants usually worked for a period of years to pay for their passage to this country - so when you see *slave* in the original records - they were considered *property* of the owner and were freely bought and sold in those early days...it appears this article would like to confuse the two terms - but the documentation I've seen is quite clear - the only documentation that isn't clear is the Quaker records in VA that show Negroes as members of their Society but only first names are listed - and when only a first name is listed that's usually a clear indication that the person was a slave - Quakers also owned slaves in South Carolina as recorded in South Carolina state histories. So let's call it straight and not try to *muddy* the waters or blur the lines.
Slaves also often took the last name of their owners - and Indians often took the full name of a benefactor - so sometimes names can be deceiving - if you really want to know get a male in your family line to join the many DNA projects at http://www.familytreedna.com/ - this eventually will replace paper document lines)