Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Absalom Talbot – A Free Black Man

by Rich Remling, former board member CNYGS

Miscellaneous records are court records that are under utilized by genealogists. Tree Talks has been abstracting court records for years, but these records have mainly been probate and guardianship records. The LDS has digitized deeds and probate records in New York State but have not done much with miscellaneous court records. Sometimes you can find things in these miscellaneous records that may be found in no other place.

In the basement archives of the Onondaga County Courthouse, I had been leafing through the earliest Miscellaneous Records book “Onondaga County Miscellaneous Records A-B-C-D. “ On page 189 of Volume D, I found the following record that was recorded by D. Mosely, clerk on Apr 25, 1821:

Whereas Absalom Talbot of the Town of Salina in the County of Onondaga a black man has appeared before me and whereas proof has been exhibited before me that the said Absalom Talbot is a free man according to the laws of this State by oath of Charles Fields. Now therefore I Nehemiah H. Earll one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas in this the County of Onondaga do certify that I am of the opinion that the said Absalom Talbot is free according to the laws of this State and further that the age of the said Absalom is of the age of twenty six years the description of whose person is as follows about six feet one ¼ inches and was born free in the Town of Bridgewater in Massachusetts. N. H. Earll Judge of Onon Com Pleas

The Preservation Association of Central New York (PACNY) has researched Absalom and his family. The Absalom and Magdalena Talbot house on Abbey Road in the Town of Onondaga is on PACNY’s Freedom Trail website[1].  The research states that Absalom was born about 1800 in Massachusetts. This information probably was obtained from later census records. Thanks to the Miscellaneous Records we now have a more accurate birth date and origin for Absalom. 

Spelling variations for the name Talbot include Tolbot, Talbit, Talburt, Talbut, Talbert, Tarbit, Tarbot, Turbuit, Tarbet and Terbert. 

The January 2013 article “Sampson Dunbar and His Family” in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Volume 167, page 61) gives Absalom’s parents as Jacob and Susanna (Dunbar) Talbot. Jacob’s parents were Tobey and Dinah (Goold) Tarbit.

Tobey’s emancipation was decided in a Plymouth County Court of Common Pleas case in October 1779 (vol. 15, pages 219 – 220). In the case Toby Tarbut, plaintiff, alleged that Jesse Howard, defendant, took 2 cows, 1 hog and 25 bushels of parsnips from him. The defendant contended that the plaintiff was his proper servant for life and that on Jan 2, 1771 he and Elijah Snell bought the plaintiff from David Jones and that on Apr 16, 1771 Snell released his claim of Toby Tarbut to the plaintiff for twenty pounds. After deliberations the jury found that Toby Tarbut was indeed a freeman and could recover costs against Jesse Howard.

Shortly after this court case, the Massachusetts state constitution was written. It is the oldest functioning written constitution in the world. John Adams was the principal author. Article 1 of the Declaration of Rights declared “all men are born free and equal.”[2] After this constitution was finalized, several court cases in the early 1780s concluded that slavery was inconsistent with the new constitution. This led to slavery’s end in Massachusetts in 1783. In New York State, slavery gradually ended, beginning with a state law in 1799 and ending in 1827 with the freeing of all the remaining slaves in the state.[3]

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