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Farmington

Amistad First Church of ChristAn Amistad Committee was formed and held fund raising activities. They chose Farmington, Connecticut, as the place for the Africans to stay. Farmington was the center of the Underground Railroad in Connecticut.

The freed Africans stayed in Farmington for 6 months before they returned home to Sierra Leone, Africa.

The Union Missionary Society sponsored the Africans. The First Church of Christ, Congregational in Farmington helped support the Africans. The Rev. Noah Porter was the minister here for 60 years.

African First Building in FarmingtonThe African men stayed in this building for a short time. It was too crowded, so a 'dorm' was built for them on the farm of A.F. Williams, who was a strong abolitionist.

Dorm at Norton's FarmWilliams gave fruit and vegetables to ASD, and students came to his farm to pick them. Stories passed down through American Sign Language tell about students watching the Africans dance and doing gymnastics.

Sengbe and Grabbeau loved to visit the Norton family. Elizabeth Cogswell Norton was Alice Cogswell's sister. Sengbe would play with her little boy, Charles. He was the same age as Sengbe's son back in Africa.

Steps to HouseSengbe and the other Africans loved dancing, mime and gymnastics. There are stories, handed down through American Sign Language (ASL), of them tumbling down these steps (at right) and onto the hills below. These stories have been handed down "orally" through American Sign Language. That means the stories were not written down, but told through ASL, from one generation to the next. David Halberg, an ASD alumnus, former teacher and historian, was told these stories as a youth. He, in turn, has told and now written the stories to pass on to future generations.

Sengbe and Grabbeau didn't speak English well. Do you think their gestures made it easy to communicate with people who knew sign language?

MargruThere were children aboard the Amistad when all this happened. Imagine what that was like?! This is a picture of Margru, one of the children who were on the Amistad. She lived with the Porter family while waiting to go back home.

The Rev. Noah Porter actively supported the Africans. His son, Samuel Porter became deaf as an adult and taught at ASD, the New York School for the Deaf and Gallaudet College.

Samuel's sister was Sarah Porter, founder of Miss Porter's School for Girls. Sarah taught Margru during her stay. Another daughter, Rebecca Porter, married John Keep who was a teacher at ASD.

Margru went back to Africa, and later returned to America for college. She went to Oberlin College in Ohio and became a teacher. When she returned to Africa, she established a school.