Catherine & Scipio – Part IV

(I haven’t forgotten – life got in the way.)

We left Catherine and Scipio – an enslaved married couple being held in the Joseph Porter household in Salem Village in the 1740s. The Porter household was located very near the Topsfield border so sometimes the Porter records and Catherine & Scipio’s records appear in the Salem church records and sometimes in the Topsfield church records. Catherine and Scipio had their first child, Zilpah, in 1744. Zilpah’s baptism was recorded in the Topsfield Church records by the Rev. Joseph Emerson but the Reverend or someone later entered in “Sharper” as Zilpah’s father.

Two years later, Catherine had another child – Isaac. Again the Reverend Emerson left a blank for the father’s name and this time, no name was ever added.


To end the story (and I did warn that this story had no happy ending), when baby Isaac was just over a year old, Joseph Porter, the household patriarch, died. He left a will bequeathing his “negroes” to his two young (under the age of 9) sons. There was an inventory taken of the estate which lists the enslaved family between the silver spoons and what was probably their bed:


George Bixby, Joseph Porter’s step-father, was the executor and he wasted no time selling this family probably because with five children under the age of 9, the widow needed the cash.

Catastrophically for Catherine & Scipio, they were sold separately. Catherine, at least, got to keep baby Isaac.


From then, they all seem to disappear from the record.


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