I David Barlow, of Sherman

A very recent addition to the collection had me hopping up and down with excitement. We now have  copies of two wills, one written by David Barlow in 1814, and the other by his wife, Sarah Barlow, written in 1822. The couple lived in Sherman, Connecticut.

My original interest in these documents was that David willed “my Negro by the name of Jack” to his wife, along with livestock and cash. Subsequently, in her will Sarah noted that  “to my servant named Jack I give and bequeath one bed and bedding being his bed which he now uses . . . It is also my will that the said Jack shall have his Freedom he being a now a slave immediately after my decease and I hereby emancipate him the said Jack from and after the time of decease.”  Further research revealed that Jack married another Negro servant, stayed in Sherman, and died in 1849 at the age of 83.  Slave-related documents from Connecticut, never mind Fairfield County, are scarce–hence my excitement.

The rest of the will, was equally intriguing.  Barlow was a farmer, but he owned one oxcart, a wagon, a sleigh, and two chairs.  Not the transportation one equates with a farmer.  Research on him did not uncover much, except that on the grand list of Sherman in 1790 he was taxed $600.00, which was one of the highest assessments at the time. So, we have a rather rich man.

Sarah was also a surprise. To her granddaughter Sally Barlow she left her gold beads, and to granddaughter Sarah B. Hubbell, she left a bureau, a large dining table, one tea-table, two looking glasses, one set of silver tablespoons and one set of silver teaspoons. Again, not what one would necessarily expect on a farm. The actual estate inventory is part of the document, and provides a bit more insight.  However, we need to find more information on the Barlow family to fill out their story. Were they active in town government, state politics, the church? As is often the case, I have more questions than answers at this point.

3 thoughts on “I David Barlow, of Sherman

  1. I am not sure if you are aware of the location of the old Barlow Farm. The old house is still there at the bottom of Barlow Farm Road, off Leach Hollow Road, in Sherman. This is the first mention that I am aware that there were slaves at the Farm. Interestingly, there is a hidden space behind a wall that we, as children were told was a station in the underground railroad. Now, who knows? Maybe those old stories had a basis of truth in them.

  2. Greetings. Regarding David Barlow and the old house at the end of Barlow Farm Road, I currently live in this house and have many stories to tell about it. It served as a paradise each summer for at least seven families and about 25 children during the 1950s-1970s and is now undergoing a structural restoration. It was purchased from a very much more recent David Barlow (DB) in 1928 by my Grandparents with the understanding that DB could remain on the Farm for the rest of his days. DB became somewhat of a second Father to my own Father, Lee Martin, and taught him much about gardening and other Farm skills and I believed helped shape my Father’s character and the character of his Family and the Barlow Farm community of the ’60s and ’70s. However there were I believe at least two Barlow Farms in Sherman, so it is not clear that our Barlow Farm at the end of Barlow Farm Road is the same as that of David and Sarah Barlow and their slave then servant then free man Jack. It would be of great interest indeed to have more information about the 1800s estate in question, so that the location of David/Sarah/Jack’s story can be conclusively identified. In this message let me also confirm Catherine Peacock’s recollection of stories we heard as children that this building and the hidden space between upstairs walls under the attic stairway were once part of the underground railroad. Let me also thank Catherine and her sister, Sr. Elizabeth, for passing along a printed copy of the I David Barlow blog post, which reached me just today having been sent for my recent birthday. I look forward to learning more about the history of Barlow Farm(s) in Sherman, and will be glad to contribute more recent stories about this beautiful part of Sherman. If the following image tag is successfully interpreted, a photo of the main Barlow Farm building will appear below.

  3. Hi Rolf,
    We are distant cousins. I lived on Barlow Farm when I was about four. Rose Martin bought the property from Isabel Barlow, the owner. Dave Barlow was her brother-in-law. It is a complicated Barlow family story but Isabel made that lifetime arrangement for Dave because she knew he was the real owner regardless of the paperwork.

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