The Percys & Pettibones
Linked by Slavery
The importance of registering the birth of Black children
Ozias Pettibone registered the children’s birth dates before a Justice of the Peace. They were born between 1784 and 1791. It had become important to register the birth dates of black children because the CT Legislature In 1784 passed a law that any Negro or mulatto slave born after March 1, 1784 “shall be free at age 25”. In 1797 the Legislature lowered the age to 21. Some slaves were not freed on schedule, probably due to their ignorance of the law and the reluctance of their owners to tell them about it. In 1808 Pettibone wrote his will giving his wife Sibyl “the service of my two black boys Juba and Earl as much as she may require until freed by law – the remaining part of their service to go to the benefit of my sons Chauncey and Ozias.” By 1805 Earl was 21 and should have been freed.
By 1810 Earl was given his freedom and took the name Earl Percy. He is found in the 1810 census with a wife (possibly Eve), his son Len and either another child or a sibling. Later there were more children. In 1839 Earl’s son, Len married Nancy Peterson and they raised 11 children. Nancy died in 1856; she was only 36 years old. The family scattered and several years later, Len returned to Granby. In January 1864 he enlisted in the 30th Regiment of the US Colored Infantry and fought in the Civil War. He was 57 years old. Before leaving for the war, he married Mary Kennedy, a 35 year-old white woman born in Ireland. Six months later, Len was dead; fatally wounded in Petersburg, Virginia.
The Percys And The Pettibones:
Ozias Pettibone (1738-1812) was one of the few Granby citizens wealthy enough to own slaves. The stories of the Pettibone family and the black Percy family are tangled.
Ozias was a wealthy white land owner and businessman who built the big white house at #4 East Granby Road (Rt.20) now owned by the law firm of Murphy, Laudati, Kiel & Rattigan (MLK&R). Ozias owned mills, houses and about 1,000 acres of land. He was also a lawyer, represented Simsbury in the CT General Assembly and was a member of the Salmon Brook Episcopal Church. He owned 5 slaves.
In 1797 the Pettibone slaves were: Rose 43, Dick 15, Earl 13, Juba 9 and Rhoda 6. Rose was the mother of the children.
In 1799 and 1808 Pettibone advertised twice in the Connecticut Courant, the first time hoping to recover a runaway slave and the second time looking for a runaway “Negro servant.”
In September 2019, Granby archivist Carol Laun began to look into these children and their relationship to Col. Pettibone and Pettibone’s relationship to Rose, his one-time slave. She noted that each time Pettibone recorded a birth there would be a description like “a black Child of Coe [Col.] Pettibone.”. In another place the Town Clerk clearly called them “The black children of Col. Pettibone.” Other records referred to them as mulatto. According to Laun, Ozias Pettibone fathered these children and Rose was their mother. It is also likely that with Pettibone having a great deal of power over Rose, she had no choice but to continue to have his children.