Long Island Genealogy
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Slavery on Long Island

Additional Links on this Topic
Grave site exposes brutality of slavery in early New York
Long Island Document of slavery:Certificates of Manumition and Freedom Made by Henry P. Osborn, East Moriches, NY for a certain slave named Reuben, 16th day of June 1825 - submitted by Van Field
The Queens Freedom Trail - by Kathleen G Velsor, Ed.D.

      "Slavery came early to Brookhaven. In 1672 Robert Hudson of Rye sold a negro man named Antony, who had belonged to John Ogdon of Rye, to Richard Floyd of Brookhaven. Two men were to look him over and guarantee him sound in "wiend and lime". For him Richard Floyd was to pay to Alexander Brian of Milford 48 pounds sterling in two installments, " and alsoe to pay 10 shillings here in this towne, and lett his horse go to Southould gratis, it is to be understood the pay be in wheat or pork and beafe at machants price."
    This was signed by Hudson and Floyd. Why the money or rather goods was to be paid to Brian instead of Hudson I cannot find out, or what Floyd's horse going gratis to Southold had to do with it. Any way, Richard Floyd did not keep Antony long, for in two years we find him selling him to John Hurd of Stratford, Ct.
    Here is a still earlier slave transaction. Isaac Rainer of So»thampton sold a negro man named S amboe to John Thomas of "Setakett elles brookhaven,"   for nineteen barrels of whale oil in good thick casks to be delivered "aboute unkachaunk upon the beach." The value was 38 pounds." - quoted from Kate W. Strong - 1950

Lymas Reeve, Southhold Slave
Dr Clarence Ashton Wood - 1951

    Lymas Reeve, a one time slave on the Cutchogue farm of James Wickham Reeve, which was later owned by the Hon. William Wickham, was "one of the most remarkable men ever mentioned in the annals" of Southold town. Such was the dictum of Rev. Dr. Epher Whitaker, former unofficial historian of the town.
    Elymas, familiarly known as Lymas or Lymus, was the son of "Reuben the Lawyer," a slave of Deacon James Reeve. Lymas bore the name of his paternal grandsire who was the son of Pomp and Dorcas. The elder Lymas and his brother Pomp were baptized Nov. 12, 1775 by Rev. John Davenport who the following month married the widow of his immediate predecessor in the local church, thereby acquiring a daughter of twenty summers.
    Reuben the Lawyer and his son Lymas bore the family name of one of the earliest settlers of the town. It was given Reuben by his owners and bestowed on Lymas in baptism and later in a deed for a small parcel of ground which he held until a few years before his death.
    When the Reeve boys of English lineage twitted a son of Lymas and his wife that his grandfather Reuben stole their family name, the black boy came back with the prompt and apt rejoinder, "but your family had first stolen him."
    Lymas Reeve was greatly respected by all his contemporaries. The intimacy between him and his neighbors when he was 77 years old is illustrated in a public notice dated June 11, 1861. His name appeared thereon with Edward Reeve, G. B. Reeve, Charles R. Reeve, G. L. Conklin Jr. and J. F. Horton. The notice forbade the taking of fish from Mattituck pond near which they lived. Those who evidently had been so doing were requested to "secede forthwith." Secession was of course at that time a word with a punch.
    Physically, Lymas was above the medium size. He was credited with being once the strongest man in the town. He learned to read and write and "to cast up accounts" accurately. "Aunf Betty" Reeve, his owner, entrusted him with the entire management of her large farm.
    Lymas in 1806 joined the Cutchogue Presbyterian Church, of which he later became an official. At the time of his death he had been enrolled as a member twelve years longer than any of his associates.
    His religious education was conducted mainly by Betty, a slave of Joshua Tuthill, greatgrandfather of Deacon Ira Tuthill. She was a ponderous woman, weighing about 300 pounds. She had become entirely blind when 50 years of age-before Lymas was born. Betty had a retentive mind and had committed to memory much of the Bible and many of Watts' hymns. During the forty years she lived in blindness the scene of her daily labor was chiefly in the kitchen of Deacon Tuthill's parents. There she instructed Lymas and others. She died about 1820 at the age of 90 years.
    Lymas became a free man in 1813. Asked whether he did not wish and pray for the deliverance of his fellow men from slavery in the South, his reply was: "Oh, yes! but I more desire the deliverance of men here and everywhere from the dominion and bondage of sin."
    One who worshiped with Elymas Reeve at a meeting of the Presbytery of Long Island held at Mattituck about 1850, stated that in the midst of some routine business the moderator requested this humble and modest Christian to lead in prayer. "Forthwith", said the observer, "all sounds of whispering voices, moving feet, rustily dresses, books and papers were hushed with perfect silence."
    Then the "deep, powerful, magnetic voice" of Lymas Reeve "in tones not less sonorous than a trumpet poured forth a flood of adoration and praise so majestic in thought, so profound in feeling, so graceful and biblical in language", said the narrator, "that all hearts were affected as the trees are moved by the mighty wind."
    Continued he who was present: "It has been my happiness to hear the prayers of many Christian ministers of renown, and the devotions of not a few other men of note - judges, senators, governors and scholars in the highest places of science - but I have never heard any man pray with more propriety, sublimity and fervor than Lymas prayed." .
    Lymas in 1822, when about 30 years old, married Hagar whose ancestors had belonged to an English family in the western part of Suffolk County. They reared four daughters and four sons.
    When "Aunt Betty" Reeve, Lymas' former owner died in 1820 she gave him an acre of her farm land. At the death of his father Lymas succeeded to the ownership of the latter's house and three and a half acres of land previously known as the Obadiah Hudson place, once owned by Timothy Reeve who became a policeman in New York City.
    When Mattituck was opened for settlement in 1660 the main thoroughfare ran south of the pond. In 1710 the road was changed to the north side of the "greate fresh pond" (Marratooka Lake) as it is now. The houses of the large landowners were located on the north side of what came to be known as the Kings Highway, now the South Road, a part of Route 25.
    In 1849 Lymas and Hagar moved into an old house on the north side of the pond facing it and the warm rays of the sun, with its back to the relocated highway. The title to the house had passed before that date from Gershom Howell, a carpenter, to Parthenia Reeve, daughter of Lymas and Hagar. There they lived for several decades, Lymas for forty-five years. This property and the land which came to Lymas from his father were sold at his death by his children to Irad Gildersleeve.
    Parthenia Reeve had a daughter Josephine (Silone) Yates who became a woman of culture, an accomplished lecturer and prominent representative of the colored section in the National Association of Women's Clubs. She resided in Kansas City, Mo.
    John B. Reeve, the youngest son of Lymas and Hagar, born 1831, graduated from Columbia University and from Union Theological Seminary in a class of thirty-four, all of whom were white but himself.
    For several years he was a professor in Howard University near Washington, D. C. Later he became the Pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, which had a membership of more than 300. He was also honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity.
    When old age came upon Lymas the maladies of his body were multiplied. He died April 10, 1870, a pleasant Sabbath near the time of the annual town meeting day which he had often attended at Southold.
    His near neighbor and intimate friend Rev. James T. Hamlin of Mattituck preached Lymas' funeral sermon in the Cutchogue Church. Rev. Hale, pastor of that church and Rev. Edwards of Aquebogue also took part in the service. Lymas was buried in the old Cutchogue cemetery beside Hagar who had died several years before.
    One of his contemporaries said of Lymas that he was a man of integrity, industry, frugality, equanimity of temper, amiable in disposition, full of kindliness, helpful in his relations with men, rich in faith towards God, and very patient in sickness and affliction.

This article first appeared on the August 1951 issue of Long Island Forum - no copyright information was posted