The Powers Family of Ludlow, Massachusetts and Suffield, Connecticut, Part 2

Marcus and Lovina Powers

The earliest family members identified on this branch of the tree are Marcus (also known as Mark) and Lovina Powers. Marcus and Lovina, as well as their oldest children, were probably slaves for part of their lives. Marcus was born about 1760 in Rhode Island, and Lovina was born about 1764 in Colchester, Connecticut. Rhode Island and Connecticut had the largest number of slaves in the New England states, and most blacks were enslaved when Mark and Lovina were born. In 1774, Suffield had 33 enslaved individuals, Colchester had 173, and Connecticut had 5,101 slaves, the most of all the New England states. In addition to Africans who came here as part of the slave trade, Indians were enslaved during the various Indian Wars.I don’t know when Mark and Lovina moved to Suffield, or in whose household they were living, but have found documentation that two of their children were born in Suffield, the earliest in 1783. Mark and his family were listed as free in the 1790 Federal census, with nine in the family. No other information is given. Those nine could have been Mark, Lovina, and their children, or other persons. He was listed as Mark Negro in the 1790 census. Other persons of color were also listed as “Negro” as their surname. In the 1800 Federal census, he was listed as Mark Black. Mark Black was listed twice, one with 12 in the household, and one with 13 in the household. I do not know if these are separate families or if the census taker made a mistake and listed the family twice. No surname was listed by this census taker. In 1810, Mark Powers is listed in the Federal Census in West Springfield, Massachusetts with eight living in the household.

I was surprised when searching land records in Massachusetts for Powers to find Mark Powers purchasing eleven acres in West Springfield on November 13, 1794. This is the earliest land record I have found on the family. He paid thirteen pounds four shillings, and purchased the land along with Jeptha Fero (Faro). Both were from Suffield. I have not been able to find out who this man was. The land bordered the Connecticut border. Suffield was part of Massachusetts until 1749, when it became part of Connecticut. Suffield is eight miles from Springfield. In 1807 and 1808 it appears that Mark used his land as collateral for money that he owed others. His original property deed was submitted to the Hampshire County, Massachusetts (Springfield) land office in 1812. Since he has not been found in subsequent records, he probably died around that time.

I do not know where the surname of Powers came from. Did it belong to an ancestor? A slaveholder? Was it a name that he decided to adopt? We will probably never know the answer.

By 1835 Lovina (unknown) was living in Ludlow and was on the state paupers list. She was on the state paupers list until her death. In 1850 she was living with her daughter-in-law, Polly Powers. In 1855, she was a resident of the Monson, Massachusetts State Almshouse. She died at 91 years on December 4, 1855 at the Bridgewater State Almshouse. Cause of death was of old age.

“]State Alms House Monson, Mass State Alms House, Monson, Massachusetts

I have identified three of Marcus and Lovina’s children. I am sure that they had others. Doing research on other early Powers families in the early 1800s near Suffield might find other children and family members.

The children of Marcus and Lovina are:

1. Charles James was born around 1780. He married Polly (unknown) around 1815. Polly was born around 1781 in Ludlow. In 1820, the family was living in Wilbraham, and by 1830 they were living in Ludlow. Charles and Polly had at least three children. (1) Mary Ann Powers married Philip Andrews, Jr. Philip was the father of Calvin Dexter. Mary Ann and Philip had at least one child. (2) James Powers married Susan Melinda(unknown). They had at least three children. Their son, Horace, fought in the Civil War. (3) Polly (Jr). Little is known about her. Polly, the wife of Charles, provided a safe haven for many former slaves and indigent African Americans at her farm in Ludlow following her husband’s death. [1]

2. Prince was born about 1783 in Suffield. He married Betsey E. Damon from Ashford, Connecticut. In 1820 he was living in Ashford as a free (not white) person with four in the household, two females and two males. In 1826 the family moved to Ludlow. By 1840 Prince and his family had moved to Monson. He purchased land next to Samuel and Emily Wallace, who are the great-great grandparents of Ruth Martha Andrews. Prince and Betsey had at least three children. Prince died January 9, 1863 in Monson from consumption (tuberculosis). His wife died March 3, 1864 of heart disease and pleurisy.

3. Phebe was discussed in the last post.

I have found the surname of Powers listed in Ellington, Connecticut at the time that Calvin Dexter Andrews moved to the town. It is very possible that those individuals are also related to Mark and Lovina. Additional research is needed to show all of these connections. Additional research in Suffield and Colchester might also lead to more information on Marcus and Lovina, and their journey from slavery to freedom.

[1] Joseph Carvalho III (2011) Black Families in Hampden County, Massachusetts 1650-1865, 2nd edition. Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society.

For the next post, we are moving down the branch of the tree to Jeanette Freeman, wife of George Washington Andrews and mother of Charles Henry Andrews. We will begin looking at her family, which will lead us to other family members who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Until next time….

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