Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mumbet and Sedgwick Pie

This morning, fellow geneablogger M. Diane Rogers suggested writing about a woman today in honor of Women's Equality Day. I liked the idea, but in truth I wasn't feeling too inspired and was going to indulge my Inner Slacker instead.

Funny, though, how something comes along at just the opportune moment. I was reading a review of a book I ordered the other day. The book should arrive this week, and I'm looking forward to it with great anticipation.

Anyway, the book review mentioned "Sedgwick Pie." In Googling that, I came upon a website about Elizabeth "Mumbet" Freeman, a Massachusetts black woman who filed suit to obtain her freedom from slavery. It was attorney Theodore Sedgwick who represented her. From there, her life story became interwoven with the Sedgwick family until her death in 1829. She was buried in the Sedgwick family plot, a part of the Stockbridge Cemetery known as the Sedgwick pie.

You can read The Story of Mumbet from "Sheffield, Frontier Town" by Lillian E. Preiss. The Massachusetts Historical Society shares the story of her case in The Legal End of Slavery in Massachusetts. And you can view a handwritten manuscript draft of Catharine Maria Sedgwick's article, "Mumbett," which was published under the title "Slavery in New England," in Bentley's Miscellany in 1853 (p. 417-424, Google Books).

So, as it turned out, my Inner Slacker had an unexpectedly good time today, and was inspired to share it with you in honor of Women's Equality Day. Enjoy!


Lee said...

Dear T.K. ~ Thought you might like to know that many books & articles about Elizabeth Freeman contain factual errors, which have been corrected by a new book, One Minute a Free Woman: Elizabeth Freeman and the Struggle for Freedom, by David Levinson and Emilie Piper.

Levinson, an anthropologist, and Piper, an archivist, spent countless hours searching through primary sources (old newspapers, account books, letters, U.S. Censuses, court records, town records, etc.) to resolve some of the mysteries and myths about this remarkable woman.

And they've put her in the context of the times, delving into what is known about black and white lives, as well as carefully working out Freeman's genealogy and following her legacy through the generations up to 1960 or so.

I can vouch for this richly informative, fascinating book (filled with photos, maps, of-the-day quotes, and even Freeman's will), having been the editor on the project and being a former anthropologist. If interested, you can find out more about the book at

Genealogical good wishes,

Sharon Wirt

T.K. said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this informative comment with me and my readers, Sharon. I would encourage interested readers to learn more about the book at African American Heritage Trail. Also, there's a special preorder price until May 15, 2010, that will save readers a few dollars. This looks like a very interesting read!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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