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Time Line ~ The Life of VENTURE SMITH 






• Entries — that are confirmed by documented records

            Entries —  on which there is general agreement  

                     (Entries) —  that are being researched, documented, or refined        


    The date in the Narrative that VENTURE gives for his birth is “about the year 1729.”  The age/date on the tombstone and the title page of the Narrative, cross-referenced to the slave voyage and the runaway notice, put his birth within a range of 1727–1729, probably 1729.  His own estimates of dates, recounted when he was about 70 years old and in failing health, are sometimes in conflict with each other or historical records. Even the sons, Cuff and Solomon, often did not use the actual dates of their births.   It appears that VENTURE settled on January 1, 1729 as his birth date when planning his burial and then used it for the Narrative.


            1729 —

                “Broteer Furro,” the first son of the prince of “Dukandarra”  is born.         

                Probably in the Royaume d’Ouangara (Kingdon of Ouangara).


            1737 — [November-December] 

                Mother leaves with her three children after a dispute with her husband, returning to her own      

                family. She leaves Broteer with a prominent farmer, likely for some form of apprenticeship.

Venture is now 8-9


• 1738 — [October 6] 

               Charming Susanna departs from Rhode Island  for Africa. 


             1738-1739 — [December-January]    

                Broteer returns home.

      VENTURE is now 9-10    


            1739 — [January-February] 

                A raiding army kills Broteer’s father, and the youth is captured. 

                Army is led by Baukurre (probably King Boukar).


            1739 — [March-April-early spring]  

                The army raids the village of  Malagasco.

    VENTURE is now 10-11


             1739 — [spring]

                 Broteer is taken to Annamaboe District on the Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana).  It is       

                 unclear which slave castle (likely a remaining part of Annamaboe Fort) he was kept in or how     

                 long he was held there.  


            1739 — [late May or early June]  

                Broteer and other slaves are purchased by American slavers operating the Rhode Island ship    

                Charming Susanna. Broteer was purchased by the steward Robinson Mumford,“with his own

                private venture” and was named VENTURE for “four gallons of rum, and a piece of calico.”        


            1739 — [around June]                                              

                Charming Susanna sails from the Gold Coast. Mumford starts training Venture during the  

                voyage, so probably he had the run of the ship.  -  voyage #36067.


• 1739  — [late August] 

               Charming Susanna arrives in Bridgetown Harbor, Barbados; on August 23 all but four of the

               captives are sold by agent David Minvielle, taxes paid on the sale of 74 slaves £18 10s.


            1739  — [late August or early September]

                Charming Susanna sails from Barbados. 


            1739 — [September]

                Ship arrives in Rhode Island.  Robinson Mumford places the youth with one of his sisters (likely  

                Mercy Dyer, his oldest, who lived in Newport) to learn some English and how to be a manservant. 

         VENTURE is now about 11


             (1740 - 1741) — [late 40 or early 41]

                VENTURE is taken from Rhode Island to the Mumford homestead on Fishers Island. 


            1741 —

                Robinson Mumford dies at sea; his father, Capt. George Mumford, inherits VENTURE. VENTURE                      goes from the Big House to the fields.


            1753 - 1754 — [late in 53 or January/February 54] 

                VENTURE marries Meg (Marget), another Mumford slave.

VENTURE is now 25


• 1754 — [March 27 ] (newspaper ad appears on April 1st)

                VENTURE runs away with two other slaves and an indentured servant, then returns voluntarily    

                 within a few days. They were headed for the Massepe River on the South Shore of Long Island                      (misspelled in Narrative as “Mississippi”). 


             1754 — 

                After runaway attempt George Mumford transfers ownership of VENTURE and Meg to his son


            1754 — [November or slightly earlier]

                Meg gives birth to their first child, Hannah.


• 1754 — [close of year] 

                VENTURE is sold to Thomas Stanton of Stonington-point and separated from Meg and his month-

                old baby. 


            1756 — [late spring]

                Thomas Stanton buys Meg and Hannah for £700 old tenor.


            1756 — [in late 56 or early57]

                VENTURE and Meg’s first son, Solomon, is born.


            1759 — [winter of 1758-1759]

                Hempstead Miner of Stonington contracts to buy VENTURE for £56 from Thomas Stanton and then 

                hires him out to Daniel Edwards of Hartford for £10. Edwards is a lawyer, Supreme Court Judge, 

                Member Upper House of the Colonial Legislature, and Hartford Probate Judge; and it is likely he

                taught VENTURE to read. Edwards is baptizing other slaves in 1760.


In the Narrative ages given before 1754 are consistently short by 3 years


Going forward all ages given align. 



                Venture is sold for the last time to Oliver Smith Jr., who has moved to Stonington Long Point

                from Groton.  Smith agrees to let VENTURE purchase himself for £85, to be paid in installments.     

VENTURE is now 31



                1st payment £30 16s

                VENTURE makes his 1st payment to regain his freedom. Likely Primus Sike was the “middle man”.      

            1761 —

                Their second son, Cuff, is born. On Revolutionary War Pension application, dated 2 April 1818,

                Cuff says his age is 57. Application bears an original full signature. 


             (1761) — 

                Oliver Smith moved into his newly built house in spring 1761. VENTURE begins farming a plot of                     land he buys from Oliver Smith’s in-laws next to Thomas Stanton’s farm where Meg is still a slave.


            1763 — [summer]

                2nd payment £10  -  total £40 16s  -  due £44 4s.         


            1764 — [spring]

                3rd payment £3 12s - “privilege” £1 4s - total £51 2s - due £40 12s.

VENTURE is now 35


            1764 — [fall]

                4th payment £6 14s  -  “privilege” £13 6s.  -  total £51 2s due £33 18s.


            1765 — [March-April]

                5th payment £20  -  total £71 2s  or with “privilege” £85 10s. After five years of making payments

                to Oliver Smith Jr, largely with money earned from side jobs, VENTURE finally buys himself and 

                regains his freedom.

VENTURE is now 36


            1765 — 

                VENTURE sells his house and land in Stonington and moves to Long Island.  


            1769 —

                VENTURE has saved enough money to redeem his entire family, even at an excessive price, which he

                expects Thomas Stanton to demand.


                (1770) — [end of 1769 but likely first half of 1770]

                VENTURE purchases his two sons, Solomon and Cuff, while on Ram Island (six Ram Islands                           existed in the Long Island basin, most likely was the Ram Island in Southampton).  Stanton                           probably refused to sell Meg or Hannah just to spite VENTURE.

VENTURE is now 41


• 1770 — [December 1]

                VENTURE buys a farm with 26 acres (from the in-laws of his former owner and now business

                associate Oliver Smith) on Stonington-point, next to Thomas Stanton’s farm, for £60.


                (1770-1771) — [but before 1772]

                Goes whaling for Capt. Smith for 7 months.  Likely in charge of a whale boat and overseeing Capt.

                Smith’s interest.


                (1770-1771) —

                VENTURE acquires a farm on Long Island (probably on Ram Island, Southampton; Shinnecock land).


                (1772) —

                Eldest son, Solomon, goes whaling and dies at sea, age 16, beginning of 1773.


            1772 — [late ]

                VENTURE purchases Meg’s freedom for £40. 

VENTURE is now 43


            1772-1773 — [shortly after Meg]

                VENTURE purchases two Negro men. 

            1773 —

                A third son is born and named Solomon Jr.

• 1774  — [March 22]

                 VENTURE sells his land and farm in Stonington to Thomas Stanton for £100. Recouping what he                      paid for it, the £60, plus the £40 Stanton charged him for Meg.


• 1774  — [December]

                 VENTURE leaves Long Island for East Haddam, Connecticut.  He works 5 weeks for Timothy                          Chapman and 6 weeks for Abel Bingham to pay for his first land purchase on Haddam Neck,        


VENTURE is now 46

• 1775  — [March 3]

                 VENTURE buys 10 acres on Haddam Neck for £20.

             1775 —

                VENTURE purchases his oldest child Hannah, and shortly after, she marries Isaac.

VENTURE is now 46

                (1776-1777) —

                VENTURE buys six more acres on Haddam Neck, probably the "Bald Hill Lot" VENTURE said he        

                 purchased from Joseph Wells.

• 1777  — [March 14]

                 VENTURE buys 70 additional acres from Abel Bingham for £140 and builds his home.

             1777 —

                Daughter Hannah comes to live with VENTURE.

• 1777 — [August 18]

                 VENTURE and Stephen Knowlton buy 48 acres for £250.

• 1778  — [March 8]

                 VENTURE buys Knowlton's share.

• 1778  — [July 1]

                 VENTURE sells 12 acres to free blacks Wacket Freeman and Peter (Freeman?).

• 1778 — [October 26] 

                 VENTURE purchases and frees SawneyAnderson of Glastonbury, but originally from                                        Stonington.  He was the fourth known negro VENTURE purchased and freed.  Gave him bill of                        sale/mortgage October 26, 1778.

• 1782  — 

                 Sawney repaid VENTURE and satisfied the mortgage.

• 1781-1783  

                 Cuff enlists in the Continental Army on 4 December 1780, called up on 29 January 1781 for three                  years. Discharged December  1783.

             1782 —

                Hires William Jacklin and Bingo. (With Cuff in the army, VENTURE needs help).

VENTURE is now 53

                (1783) —

                Mingo tries to run away.  VENTURE takes him to Justice of the Peace Dyer Throop of East Haddam.

             1783 —

                Daughter Hannah dies of illness

• 1785  — [March, night of 12/131]

                VENTURE is attached by three men while sitting on Bald Hill. Justice of the Peace Ezra Brainerd

                found the three men guilty and ordered them to pay damages to VENTURE and a fine to the court.

                (1786) —

                Loss of clams and boat stolen on Long Island by James Webb.

                (1790) —

                Capt. Elisha Hart of Saybrook sues for loss of a barrel of molasses.


• 1795  — [January 9]

                 Cuff is found guilty of stealing firewood, fined, sent to jail, and sentenced to be whipped.

             1798 — [before the middle of October]

                VENTURE dictates his life story.

• 1798  — [October 20]

                 VENTURE sells Solomon 3 1/2 acres of the farm for £17 16s before he mortgages the rest of the

                 property.  It contains a place where VENTURE, Solomon and their families can live if necessary.

• 1798  — [November 3]

                 Edward Smith and four others certify the Narrative.

• 1798  — [November 24]

                 VENTURE mortgages his farm with Edward Smith for £200.

• 1798  — [December]

                 The Narrative is published 

• 1799  — [February 20]

                 The Narrative is offered for sale by the "Journal of the Times" in Stonington.

• 1802  — [April 12]

                 Solomon buys back the farm.

• 1804  — [May 16]

                 VENTURE sells his share of the Salmon River fishing rights and the part of the island the both own                    to William Ackley for one dollar.

• 1805  — [September 19]

                 VENTURE SMITH dies in his 77th year at Haddam Neck.

• 1809  — [December 17]

                 Marget Smith dies in her 79th year at Haddam Neck.

• 1812  — 

                 Solomon serves in the 2nd Reg't (Sanford's), Connecticut State Troop.

• 1822  — [January 13] 

                 Cuff dies and is buried in Westchester Cemetery.

• 1835  — 

                 A Descendant of VENTURE republishes the Narrative, leaving out VENTURE’s criticism of his                               children.

• 1843  — [March 28]

                 Solomon dies and is buried with his mother and father.


• 1889  —

                 Third edition of the Narrative, revised and republished by H. M. Selden, Haddam, Conn., 1896;   

                 Printed by  J. S. Stewart, Middletown Conn., 1897. 

Payments for Freedom


    1760 —  

                VENTURE is sold for the last time to Oliver Smith Jr., who has moved to Stonington Long Point

                from Groton.  Smith agrees to let VENTURE purchase himself for £85, to be paid in installments.                     Oliver Smith moved into his newly built house in spring 1761.


VENTURE is now 31


    1760 —            

                VENTURE makes 1st payment towards his freedom. 

                1st payment £30 16s


    1763 — [summer]

                2nd payment £10  


                         total £40 16s                due £44 4s         


    1764 — [spring]

                3rd payment £3 12s 


                        “privilege” £1 4s  


                        total £44 6s                   due £40 12s


VENTURE is now 35


    1764 — [fall]

                4th payment £6 14s  


                        “privilege” £13 6s.    


                        total £51 2s                   due £33 18s


    1765 — [March-April]

                5th payment £20 


                        total £71 2s  or with “privilege” £85 10s 


                After five years of making payments to Oliver Smith Jr, largely with money earned from side

                jobs, VENTURE finally buys himself and regains his freedom lost 26 years earlier.


VENTURE is now 36

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