200 Years After His Death, A Connecticut Slave Will Be Buried

Sep 3, 2013

Fortune, a Connecticut slave during the 18th century.
Credit Courtesy of the Mattatuck Museum.

More than 200 years after his death, the remains of an 18th century Connecticut slave will soon receive a proper burial.  

The slave is known as Fortune. He, his wife, and three children were owned by a doctor whose medical practice was in Waterbury. 

After Fortune died, the doctor used his skeleton as a teaching tool for students. Later, it was donated to the Mattatuck Museum and put on display. The skeleton was called “Larry." After the display was removed in the 1980s, researchers  determined that the bones were, in fact, those of the slave,  Fortune.

Bob Burns is director of the Mattatuck Museum. He said, "Recently we partnered with Quinnipiac University’s forensic school. And they’re working on creating a 3D image of what Mr. Fortune’s face would most likely have looked like, based on the surviving skull. They also did a high-density scan that enables us to do a 3D printing of the bones."

Because its possible to make copies of the bones, Fortune’s remains will now be interred. Burns says a local priest will perform the burial, a funeral director has donated a coffin, and Riverside Cemetery in Waterbury is providing a plot.

"We’ve invited all the local African American churches in Waterbury to participate by attending," Burns said, "by having their ministers sit on the altar or by providing music."

The Connecticut slave will be buried in September.