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Explore the Life of Bristow During Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society Discussion Series

Headstone for Bristow (aka Bristol). Courtesy photo

A two-part discussion series at the Noah Webster House & West Harford Historical Society about the life of Bristow will be led by Tracey Wilson, Elizabeth Devine, and Denise deMello.


In 2004, West Hartford named its third middle school after Bristow, a colonial era resident of what is now West Hartford. On March 7 and 14, 2023 from 6-7 p.m., come and explore Bristow’s life, including recently uncovered information in a two-part lecture series at the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford, CT.

Bristow, sometimes spelled Bristol, was a resident of the West Division of Hartford (now West Hartford) in the mid-to-late 1700s. Regarded for his agricultural knowledge, he was enslaved by the Thomas Hart and Sarah Whitman Hooker family until 1755. Hooker family lore maintained that he was granted his freedom, but his manumission papers show that he purchased his freedom from Thomas Hart Hooker. Bristow lived with his former enslaver, Sarah Whitman Hooker, in his later life and rests in Old Center Cemetery on North Main Street, West Hartford.

Since the naming of Bristow Middle School in 2004, research has uncovered even more information about Bristow’s life, including his military service during the French and Indian Wars where he shows up on muster rolls from 1755-1761.

Bristow manumission papers, from the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society

In March the public is invited to explore Bristow’s life in a two-part discussion series at the Noah Webster House. Find out new information about Bristow and discuss how historians use primary source documents to make inferences about the past. This discussion series will be led by dedicated researchers Dr. Tracey Wilson, Elizabeth Devine, and Denise deMello who have uncovered the history and lives of over 90 individuals enslaved in West Hartford during the colonial era. More discussion than lecture, you will be the researcher and student exploring primary source documents and learning how to interpret and extrapolate information. Participants will have the opportunity to interpret documents from the 1700s such as military muster rolls, account books, and wills.  Attendees will discuss issues of inclusion, equity, and diversity both throughout history and today.

You may attend one or both evenings. The first evening will focus on Bristow and his life as an enslaved man and the second with focus on Bristow as a free man. The event is open to the public. There is a small fee of $10 for individuals who are not members of the museum. Advance registration is required atwww.noahwebster.yapsody.com Space is limited, please register today.

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