More research on local slavery …

Rose saw Andrew rise
Not in height but in stature
When she rose with him

Little Andrew Dewner was reportedly four weeks old when he was carried on horseback from Boston to Mendon (later Milford) in the Massachusetts Bay colony. It was not unusual for a Black child to be given away from the City on a Hill based on some of the classified advertisements of the times.

“A Negro Infant Girl about Six Weeks Old, to be Given for the Bringing up: Inquire of John Campbell Postmaster, and know further.” The Boston News-Letter. Sept. 23 to Sept. 30, 1706

A young Negro child to be given away, and Forty Shillings with it. Enquire of the Printer hereof.” The New-England Courant. May 11 to May 18, 1724

“A Fine Negro Male Child to be given away, Enquire of the Printer.” The Boston Evening-Post. March 22, 1742

Once in Milford, Andrew was brought to his new home on Purchase Street between today’s Haven and Camp Streets where his new owner, Josiah Ball, wife Rachel and family, lived and owned a considerable amount of property (see NOTE 1).

According to family lore, he was granted his freedom at 21 years old (Ballou 549). We need to keep in mind that the circumstances leading to someone’s release from slavery were often glossed over. In many documented cases, the enslaved had to pay for what should have been their birthright.

The Ball family also maintained that Andrew was gifted a good horse when freed. Andrew didn’t keep the gift though. He used it to buy Rose, enslaved in Marlboro at the time, by exchanging it for her. This is not one of the colonial New England scenes that Currier and Ives, the famous illustrators, often portrayed. They reserved their depiction of people of color to their Darktown Comics, a thoroughly racist enterprise (Quinney).

Andrew would have likely ridden his horse the fourteen miles to Rose from Bell’s homestead starting on Milford’s Marlborough Road, a byway that no longer exists (Ballou 313). His horse, if typical, walked about four miles an hour, but considering the poor roads, the routes available, as well as Andrew’s high motivation to reach Rose, the time spent traveling is impossible to estimate. Once out of Milford, most of the trip was likely on what is known today as Route 85. The couple may not have had a horse for the  trip home to Milford but Rose and Andrew would have been walking on air by then.

Rose was likely to have been owned by one of four enslavers in Marlborough when Andrew arrived in town by horseback to buy her. A few of them are known because of a 1771 census taken by the Marlborough town assessors to provide the Massachusetts General Court data for calculating and collecting taxes. To do so, the assessors counted up each of the following: human beings in bondage, houses, oxen, cows, and barrels of cider. Henry Barnes, Esq., a notorious Tory in town, enslaved at least two people, and each of the following at least one, Abraham Rice, Edward Johnson, and Hannah Brigham (Hudson 253). Since children, the infirm and the elderly were considered of little value, their numbers were not likely collected, therefore the actual number in all likelihood was higher. As you learned from one of the advertisements above, sometimes babies were given away with money as added incentive. Although we do not know the year Andrew arrived in Marlborough, we do know that he was an “old man” in 1825 (Ballou) so the 1771 names in the assessment likely apply at least partly if not in full.

Together Rose and Andrew grew a family in Milford, daughters Achsa, Dinah and Judith, and sons Andrew and Henry. Judith, believed to have been the oldest, was born about 1768 (“United States”) and went on to marry the Bostonian Luke Smith (Ballou). She was listed as 102 years old in 1870 and living in poverty when the federal census was taken in Milford that year (“United States”) and died a couple years later (“Massachusetts Deaths”). Achsa married Pero Gardner of Wrentham in 1793 (Massachusetts). Dinah moved with her husband, George Smith, to Boston after their 1792 marriage and their son moved to Milford and lived with his grandparents. The younger Andrew found work on seagoing ships but Lewis Cobb, a carpenter in town, was said to have seen him enslaved in Georgia, while another, Alfred Bragg, was of the belief that he had become enslaved in Cuba (Ballou 682). And finally, their son Henry also chose to go to sea, a popular choice among young Black men, free or those escaping captivity, especially given the paucity of options for them.

When Andrew’s former owner got around to writing his will, he did not neglect him. Josiah willed “Andrew Dooner (various spellings were typical of era) a Negro Man living in Milford” the use of a room in the east part of the house with the right to remove that part of the house and its chimney, along with the yard, the well, the barn room for hay, part of the orchard, and the use of some additional land. Andrew was not entitled to leave any of these rights of use to his offspring, wife or others as the rights were and did expire along with him. (Massachusetts, Worcester County).

However, Josiah, who died in 1791, did bequeath to Andrew a north Purchase Street quarter acre lot next to the Ball family.

I tried to track down the deed but failed to find one. Did this mean Andrew was not made aware of his inheritance and therefore failed to make the trip to the county Registry of Deeds in Worcester or to hire someone to bring it for him? Or was it simply lost or misfiled?

Fortunately for us and especially for Andrew and Rose, I was able to pick up the trail in a document recorded the year after Andrew’s 1825 death (Ballou 718) when his estate was probated. His daughter Judith and her spouse sold the lot that had been “given to Andrew Duner late of father of the said Judith Smith, by the last will and testament of Josiah Ball late of said Milford” (Massachusetts Land Records). They built their house and raised their children on today’s Purchase Street close to the Haven Street intersection.

Rose moved to Boston after Andrew died at home (Ballou 718) and she met her own fate after contracting consumption [tuberculosis]. She was laid to rest in the “South Ground,” known today as the South End Burying Ground, the exact location in the cemetery unknown ( 1870).

Andrew’s bones are probably interred in Milford, although there is no record. But Andrew left his mark years earlier with a love story for the ages. 

Susan Elliott

Independent Researcher


Here are the sources and reasoning behind that led me to where Andrew likely lived in Milford, Massachusetts. According to Adin Ballou in The History of the Town of Milford, Massachusetts (1882), Josiah Ball, Sr. built a home “upon which Mr. Richmond Stone now lives on Purchase Street” (Ballou 549-550). Richmond Stone’s home, according to a map from 1851 (Harness), was on the west side of Purchase street slightly south of the aforementioned intersection. An 1870 map of the town (Walling) shows two R. Stone homesteads, one with the same footprint as the 1851 map, and another a short distance away on the east side of Purchase street just north of the  intersection with today’s Haven Street. Josiah’s will bequeathed Andrew with a building lot next to his own, and was described as being on the east side of the road in the deed.

WORKS CITED 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.Minnesota census schedules for 1870. NARA microfilm publication T132, 13 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Massachusetts. Massachusetts, U.S., Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.Original date: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

Ballou, Adin. History of the Town of Milford, Worcester County, Massachusetts, from

Its First Settlement to 1881. Rand, Avery & Co., 1882, Boston.

Harkness, O. A Map of the Town of Milford, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Norman B. Leventhal Map Center Collection.…/commonwealth…

Hudson, Charles. History of the town of Marlborough, Middlesex county, Massachusetts, from its first settlement in 1657 to 1861; with a brief sketch of the town of Northborough, a genealogy of the families in Marlborough to 1800, and an account of the celebration of the two hundredth anniversary of the incorporation of the town. T. R. Marvin and Son, 1862, Boston.

Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1620-1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016).

“Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, 1921-1924,” database with images, FamilySearch (… : 22 May 2019), 0960201 (004221416) > image 356 of 463; State Archives, Boston.

“Massachusetts Land Records, 1620-1986,” images, FamilySearch (… : 22 May 2014), Worcester > Deeds 1826 vol 250-251 > image 325 of 712; county courthouses and offices, Massachusetts. Book 250, Page 587.…/61903/3:1:3QS7-89ZH-G8VY…

Massachusetts, Worcester County, Probate Estate Files; Author: Massachusetts. Probate Court (Worcester County); Probate Place: Worcester, Massachusetts. Transcribed by Susan G. Elliott, 24 March 2022. Transcribed by Susan Elliott, 9 June 2022.…/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9Z7-X8HF…

Quinney, D. “Darktown Comics . . . What Are They . . .?” Ethnic Studies, Albion College.…/darktown-comics-what-are-they/

“United States Census, 1870,” database with images, FamilySearch (… : 12 June 2019), Massachusetts > Worcester > Milford > image 207 of 250; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Walling, H. F. “Milford, Massachusetts.” Atlas of Worcester County, Massachusetts.…/milford-massachusetts-1870…


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