It’s now two years since I began the Ganges Families History Project and continuing in the spirit of an annual holiday letter, here’s what’s transpired in the past 12 months.
While the search for original sources continues, my emphasis over the past year has increased its emphasis on taking the information I’ve already found and bringing it together into a more coherent narrative. This has taken two forms: continuing to update the Ganges Families web site and presenting my research results in public presentations. Many thanks to the African American Genealogy Group of Philadelphia and the Main Line Genealogy Club for giving me the opportunity to organize my thoughts. I’m now prepared to take the story out further when opportunities arise.
So, without further ado, here’s the “Top 10” highlights for the past year:
- Documenting what is know of the voyages of the Schooner Prudent and Phoebe. Of particular interest is a document describing the consignment terms for 45 of the Africans enslaved aboard the Phoebe at Bance Island, including an 8% contingency for “Loss occasioned by death.”
- Documenting the two federal court cases, U.S. vs. Schooner Prudent and U.S. vs. Schooner Phoebe that resulted in the First Ganges being freed.
- Adding a table of (very) short biographical sketches of the men involved in the court cases.
- Adding a glossary of common legal terms found in the court cases.
- Continuing to profile the lives of individual Ganges, including Phillis, Abraham, Peter, Peter “Guinea Pete”, Sado and Debby Ganges, and moving to a new, standard profile format that’s much easier for me to create and maintain.
- Verifying that the remains of the “Old Lazaretto” – the quarantine hospital where the First Ganges were treated and where six of them were probably buried – are very unlikely to have survived. The site is currently under the control of the Corps of Engineers in a location dubbed “Disposal Area Number 2”. This is where the Corps deposits spoil coming from its dredging operations on the Delaware Rive. A summary map is available here.
- Assisting Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Cassie Owens on an article describing the Pennsylvania’s indenture process at the turn of the nineteenth century, including an interview with a living descendant of Samuel Ganges of Chester County.
- Completing a high resolution map of the Philadelphia area showing the locations where the First Ganges were indentured.
- Preparing and presenting the aforementioned talks on the project.
- Drafting a summary and map of the Ganges voyage from Philadelphia to Cuba and back (not yet published here), including a yellow fever epidemic aboard that ultimately killed more than twenty crew members.
I have made progress on the web site in the past year, but it still has a way to go before “completion.” My enthusiasm for the topic hasn’t waned and I intend to carry on. Watch this space and, if you are so inclined, write me.