The now and then postings of the discoveries and contributions of the Miller and Bechtold families .

Friday, February 8, 2013

Philip Phillips and Honest Heberman, first African American of Ashfield

African American Couple helps raise large Phillips family

Philip, our direct ancestor took care of them in their old age, living in their own home on the property of Philip.

As noted below, they were (became?) freedmen, and members of the Congregational Church.

Biographical Sketches of Richard Ellis: The First Settler of Ashfield, Mass .... By Edward Robb Ellis

26. Site of Philip Phillips, Esq.'s house. He was a son of Thomas Phillips, the second settler in the town, and was a very intelligent and influential man. He had thirteen children—eleven of whom were sons, each one over six feet tall. Esquire Phillips was an officer in the French and Indian war of 1750. He formed his sons into a company and took great pride in exhibiting them at military trainings.
27. Residence of Mr. Samuel A. Hall. Previous to 1800 this house stood about 20 rods south of I, and was occupied by David, son of John Balding.
28. Site of a house on Bellows Hill, where Philip Phillips, Esq., once lived. Samuel Annable also lived there for a time. This is near the southwest corner of lot or Right No. 1. The old cellar-hole is yet visible.
29. Site of Heber's cabin, on the west side of Bellows Hill. Heber was a black man, said to have been brought a slave from Africa. He came to Ashfield with the Phillipses, from Easton, or the eastern part of the State. Lot or Right No. 1, where his cabin was built, was taken by him from the original Proprietors. Lots 2, 3 and 4 were on the west from this lot. Lots 7, S and 9 were on the east side of lot No. 1. That Heber was an honest and respected man is evident from the early records of the town, where he is mentioned in several places, when taxes were assessed to him, as "Heber honestman," a compliment which any person might be proud of.
32. Site of residence of Thomas Phillips, Sr., brother of Richard Ellis' wife, he was the second settler in the town. There is a tradition that his first house was about 50 rods south of 32, near the point marked O, and a few rods northeasterly from the fort, where there is yet to be seen a cellar hole. Nearly opposite (32) lived Thomas Phillips Jr., and after him his son, Russell Phillip*, who married Rhoda, eldest daughter of Hannah Ellis Williams (sec page 101). All of their children were born on this place.

When Thomas, Sr., settled in Ashfield, there came with him a colored man, Heber (Honestman), by name, and his wife. It is said that this colored woman was a nurse for the children, and in return for her and her husband's kindness, they were taken care of by Capt. Philip Phillips in their old age. Heber occupied a cabin at 29, just north of Capt. Phillips, a short distance above the spring. According to the old Congregational records, Heber joined that body at its formation in 1763, and died in 1768, aged 67 years.

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