The Root Doctress

Susanna Toney was born around 1789 in Barre, MA to Abraham Toney and his wife Mary Harry. She was commonly known as Susan. Barre was and is a small rural farming community just northwest of Worcester. Her mother, Mary Harry, was part of the Narragansett tribe and her father, Abraham, was a Black man born free in Upton, MA to free parents. Upton was another … Continue reading The Root Doctress

Mother Jefferson

Sunday nights as a teenager was spent watching “The Jeffersons” on CBS. The show premiered in 1975 and lasted 11 seasons. But never, until a few short years ago, did I know that the actress that played Mother Jefferson was born and raised in the same town as me. Zara Frances Cully was born on 26 Jan 1892 to Nora Gilliam and Ambrose Cully both … Continue reading Mother Jefferson

Abbie Freeman Hardy Bostic

For a single Black woman of today, buying a home on her own can be a daunting experience and unfortunately, not a common one. In 1884, it must have been near miraculous. Yet our ancestresses here in Worcester did it and did it often. The photo of the deed above is just one of the properties purchased by Abigail Hardy Wiggins Bostic, 2nd wife of … Continue reading Abbie Freeman Hardy Bostic

Black Lives Mattered – in historic Worcester

Black Lives Matter is considered a relatively modern movement but in Worcester during the 1800s, Black Lives Always Mattered. Black and Brown people worked to help free enslaved people, provided shelter and care for new arrivals, raised funds, and attended rallies and political events. As the news article above from 1895 states “it is expedient and wise that we, as a people, in order to … Continue reading Black Lives Mattered – in historic Worcester

Whatever Happened to Albert Vickers?

One of the family mysteries that I hope to solve is Albert Vickers. Albert’s early life is well-documented but his death is not. I’ve researched his whereabouts after 1918 for years without success. A little about the life of cousin Albert- Albert Vickers was born sometime in 1862 to Dianah (also called Anna) Hazard and Christopher Vickers. There are multiple Christopher Vickers in the 1800s … Continue reading Whatever Happened to Albert Vickers?

The Worcester Whirlwind

What does a statue, a street, a parking garage and soon a museum in Worcester all have in common? They are all named after Marshall “Major” Taylor, famed cyclist and world-champion who called Worcester his home. Marshall Taylor was born on 26 November 1878 in Indianapolis, IN to Gilbert and Saphronia Taylor. When a child, Marshall was gifted with a bicycle by a wealthy white … Continue reading The Worcester Whirlwind

Mary Williams Toney Ford

Mary was born Mary Carrol in Boston probably around 1815. Her father was Edward Carrol and we only know that her mother’s first name was also Mary. She married sometime prior to 1835 to someone with the last name Williams. I’ve not located that marriage record to date. She married Davenport Augustus Toney on 20 April 1835 in Waltham, MA – a small town not … Continue reading Mary Williams Toney Ford

Jonathan Robert Storms

Jonathan Robert Storms was born in Vergennes, VT to Primus Storms, Jr and Anna Ayres around 1850. He was part of the third generation of land-owning Black farmers in Addison County, Vermont. His free grandfather and enslaved grandmother traveled from Fishkill, NY to Vermont in the late 1700s with Platt Rogers. Jonathan worked as a horse jockey until moving to Worcester with his wife, Orphia … Continue reading Jonathan Robert Storms

Orphia Mason Storms Aldrich

Orphia Mason was born on 30 June 1854 into a large upstate NY family. Her father Lafayette Mason was a Black landowner in Elizabethtown, NY. He acquired the land after serving in the Civil War. Orphia’s mother was Mary Wheeler. Three of the Mason sisters married free Black men in Vermont. Thirza Mason married Eugene Storms, Frances married Stephen Bates, and Orphia married Jonathan Robert … Continue reading Orphia Mason Storms Aldrich

Nellie Scott Toney

My great-grandmother, Nellie Louisa Scott Toney, died during my freshman year in college and I wish almost daily that I had asked her about her family. I loved and respected Grama Nellie, a woman who gave love to her family and always stood strong for them. Nellie Louisa Scott was born in Worcester, MA on 19 September 1887 to Hannah E. Scott of West Boylston, … Continue reading Nellie Scott Toney