My daughter and grandson standing in back yard of the Moffat-Ladd House, where some of their ancestors had once lived. The tree beyond was planted in 1776, and is still alive!
The Moffat-Ladd House, also known as the William Whipple House, Portsmouth, NH. See http://moffattladd.org/
My daughter wrote, "This tree you see was planted in 1776 most likely by Prince Whipple, a man enslaved by my ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence. That history was not so long ago. The better we understand it, the better we can uproot the systemic racism it bequeathed to us all.
Mannequins in the kitchen represent the young slaves who worked there.
Portrait of Samuel Moffat, the son for whom this huge mansion was built. However, because of troubles with his slave-trading business, he lived in exile to escape creditors. His wife and children remained in Portsmouth for awhile. Eventually she traveled to join him, leaving one daughter who did grow up in this house. My daughter and grandson are descendants.
A staff member gave us a private tour of the house, including this tiny hidden closet (a la Harry Potter!) under the main stairs. My grandson went in first and was surprised to discover that it had a back door, connecting into the formal parlor where he had just been viewing portraits of ancestors!
Most of the rooms in the mansion were quite quite fancy...
But this smaller, simpler room on the top floor was probably where slaves (and later, servants) slept. A bell in the room would ring whenever someone pull the ringer at the front door.
My daughter, left, met with the staff of the Moffat-Ladd House, discussing educational objectives and ways to teach about the slaves who served here, as well as those who died in passage from Africa (on Samuel Moffat's ships).
The next day we went to the Discover Portsmouth Center, where Tonya was interviewed for a educational video, and then we toured the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.
Creating a video about my daughter's experiences as she discovered that several of her father's ancestors were slave-owners in NH, and one was a slave trader. JerriAnne Boggis, left, is Director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.
Highly recommended book
Stories continued well after the videotaping. In this building I saw office doors labled, "Star Island Corporation." Both the videographer, left, and I had worked at Star Island years ago! It turns out I'd known her brother in the summers before he went to Vietnam. Whenever I visit the island, I pause by the memorial plaque on the porch; Dana Frost was the first person I knew who lost his life in that conflict.
"Primus the Pressman" a slave who worked for 50 years as a pressman, and was later honored with commemorative poem and his obituary printed in the paper.
Rosary’s Beauty Shop, 171 Washington Street
"Rosary Broxay Cooper ... became Portsmouth’s first licensed black beautician and hairdresser. She operated her shop and a boarding house for black people here in their sixteen-room home. Retired and widowed, Mrs. Cooper volunteered on behalf of the NH Soldiers’ Home and the VFW Orphans’ Home until her death in 1997."
The name Langdon has been used as a middle name for many generations of our family.
Gov. John Langdon, by the time he lived in this mansion, had freed his slaves. At least one, named Siras, continued working for him, as paid employee. Gov. Langdon helped one of George and Martha Washington's escaped slaves evade re-capture.
Governor John Langdon lived here. He had previously owned slaves, including Siras, or Cyrus, who was later freed and continued to work as paid servant. See next...
Memorial to the African Burial Ground
Tonya chose to stand beside the figure bearing the message: "I stand for those who suffered in the middle passage."
On the second day that we visited this memorial, I noticed that someone had added flowers in the hands of Mother Africa
For more about the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, visit