Samuel (Mundo) Ganges

Samuel Ganges (GPIDS0830 [1]) was one of the three First Ganges to be have been given this name.  He is the youngest of the three, having been indentured for twelve years to Jonathan Scholfield of Lower Dublin, Philadelphia County [2]. This places Samuel’s date of birth around 1791.  The other two Samuels were at or near adulthood when indentured in 1800, being bound for seven and four years, respectively.

At the time of Samuel’s indenture, Scholfield had been a Justice of the Peace for Lower Dublin Township for nine years, having been appointed soon after the passage of Pennsylvania’s 1790 constitution.[3]

Though a Quaker by birth, Scholfield seems to have been a reluctant one, waiting until the last minute to manumit an enslaved 15 year old boy, John Solomon, in August 1776, two months shy of a mandatory disownment ordered by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of all members who did not manumit their slaves by October. Scholfield’s disagreements with the Society of Friends continued soon after when, after paying a fine for failing to attend military training under the 1777 Militia Act — an action proscribed by the Yearly Meeting — he was disowned in September 1778.[4] He subsequently joined the meeting of “Free Quakers” which was composed of fellow believers who had run afoul of the Friends pacifist principles.[5]

After the Revolution, Scholfield took up residence on a 100 acre farm straddling the border between Lower Dublin and Moreland Townships. While he no longer owned slaves, free blacks continued to be enumerated in his household in the 1790 (1), 1800(3) and 1810 (1) censuses.[6]

Though no longer enslaved, Samuel’s indenture restricted his personal autonomy until age 21. Before its expiration in 1812, he took matters matters into his own hands. On May 1, 1808 he absconded with enough clothing to outfit a long journey or, perhaps, to fund it. Scholfield placed ads in local newspapers for several weeks, offering an $8 reward and providing all the particulars as shown below. There is little doubt that this “Guinea negro boy”, Mundo, bound under the name of Sam Ganges, is the same man as the Samuel Ganges bound to Jonathan Scholfield 8 years earlier. The facts presented match up very nicely.[7]

Runaway Ad for Sam Ganges, aka, Mundo, placed by his master, Jonathan Scholfield, a few months shy of the eighth anniversary of their indenture agreement.

We do not know whether Sam, aka Mundo, was taken up and delivered back to his master or not but a record created nearly forty years later in an unexpected place suggests that he did achieve full autonomy — by putting out to sea.

On March 16, 1830, the Louisiana Legislature passed an act “to prevent free persons of color from entering into this state.” Section 12 of this act required “all free negroes, griffs and mulattoes of the first degree” who had entered the state after the adoption of the Constitution of 1812 and before January 1, 1825 to enroll themselves with the office of the Parish Judge of their resident parish or with the office of the Mayor of the City of New Orleans. The rolls kept by these offices were to include the person’s “age, sex, colour, trade or calling, place of nativity and the time of their arrival in the State.” [8]

In accordance with the law, the Mayor of New Orleans began keeping such records and those from the period 1840 to 1864 survive in Register of free persons of color entitled to remain in the state, 1849-1864. In volume 1, we find an entry, written in French, for a Samuel Ganges, negre [negro], age 45, journalier [laborer], born Afrique [Africa], arrived New Orleans in 1823. The name, age and place of birth all match what we know about Sam (Mundo) Ganges, and the case is strengthened by Scholfield’s statement that Mundo went by his adopted name. A measurable fraction of Philadelphia’s free black males were mariners, so this would not have been an unusual choice for Samuel to have made.[10]

Entry for Samuel Ganges in the New Orleans register of free persons.

This record is the first we have located that places one of the First Ganges outside the Philadelphia region, and will probably not be the last. Given that this record indicates Samuel resided in New Orleans for at least 20 years, there is also a reasonable chance he left descendants there. Time and future research will tell.


[1] This is the internal database ID used to distinguish the first Ganges from another.

[2] Indenture from Samuel Ganges to Jonathan Scholfield, Box 3A Folder 1. Indenture term for 12 years suggests a date of birth of 1791. All indentures for Ganges males were for 4 years or to age 21, whichever was longer. Skills to be taught: farming; 3 quarters schooling.; “Papers, Series IV. Manumissions, indentures, and other legal papers, document”, Pennsylvania Abolition Society, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Jonathan Scholfield (1742-1812) was a birthright Quaker, the youngest of nine children of John Scholfield and Ann Lenoir of Solebury, Bucks County. He married Rebecca Beaumont, daughter of John Beaumont and Sarah Pancoast of Upper Makefield, at the Wrightstown Monthly Meeting on May 17 1769.

[3] Pennsylvania, General Assembly, House of Representatives, “List of Justices of the Peace”, (Lancaster, Benjamin Grimler, 1809), p86. Scholfield was appointed 18 Sept. 1791.

[4] Buckingham [Pa.] Monthly Meeting, “Minutes 1763-1792”, 7 Sept 1778, p. 176.

[5] Charles Wetherill, “History of the religious Society of Friends, called by some the Free Quakers, in the city of Philadelphia”, ([Philadelphia? Pa.] : Printed for the Society, 1894), p 20.

[6] See 1800, 1810 and 1820 U.S Census, Population Schedules for Lower Dublin Township, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

[7] ” Eight Dollar Reward”, 16 May 1808, p. 1, Democratic Press, Philadelphia, Pa, images, ( : accessed 11 May 2021).

[8] Mitchell, Brian. “Free Blacks Database: New Orleans, 1840-1860.” Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation 1, no. 1 (2020); online

[9] “Free People of Color in Louisiana”, Louisiana Digital Library ( : accessed 13 Mar 2021), image, New Orleans (La.) Office of the Mayor, “Register of free colored persons entitled to remain in the state.”, Vol 1, 1840-1856, p 111 (image 33), crediting New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana Division, City Archives & Special Collections, New Orleans, La.

[10] Gary B. Nash, “Forging Freedom”, (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 149.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s