Lot 12: 1859 Black prisoner in Massachusetts protests racist injusticd
15th December 2016
Author: N/A; Title: Black prisoner in Massachusetts protests racist injusticd during the Reconstruction days; Place Published: N/A; Publisher: N/A; Date Published: 1869; Description: Ten Eycke, John F. Autograph Letter Signed. "In Care of Jailor Nobles". Springfield, Mass. Nov. 29, 1869. 4pp. To Mr. "Smithes" [Fergus O'Connor Smithies] Its unclear of what Ten Eycke already in prison for two months, was accused, but he was begging his "old friend" Smithies, a 28 year-old Irish immigrant farmer who had employed him as a farm hand,,to act as his defense witness, as "I am an innocent man, [but] a Niggar as I will bee called now I have got into jail..."Ten Eycke was apparently born a slave in Virginia in 1830, but had been emancipated, settled in Massachusetts and was reasonably literate,unlike the "Darkyes" in the area. He reminded Smithies that he had been a faithful worker, except for one night when he had gone out to get drunk. If Smithies answered his plea, it was to no avail. Census records the following year who that Ten Eycke was still in jail and and there is no record of his life after that.Quoting more fully from the plaintive letter: "...you of course know whare I am & why... you don't know that I am A gilty man. You remember well how I & you talked over how close I had stuck by you through haying & that I had not ben absent only ½ day when you kneeded me very bad...you told mee then to stay by you & I did so after... the night the Darkyes came and go,,, you went to your brother Ums for potatoes & I came back & helped you get in at load of hay & staid until late in the morning & you & I went out into the corn field & you told mee you did not think that you could keep mee away from going up... [to] have something to drink & I would go any way & that you was disappointed in mee & you was glad that I did not go now the night that the dakyes had their Egg eat was the night that uncle Ralph lost his watch...I was not away from your house that night...Now you look at your books & see... if I ant right about the eggs & look the whole thing over...ask... if I had not ought to have you here as A witness. I have ben hire now almost 2 months imprisoned when God know & I know... that I am an innocent man, a Niggar as I will bee called now I have got into jail, if Bartholomew had consulted you and found out that I was not away from your house that night I think he would have baild me or the would not have committed mee at all... gave mee neither advise nor instructions only seemed to want to hurry mee right into Jail. Oh Fergus if I ever get out I intend to put into print their proceedings with mee and the whole particulars.. I wish you would attend to this as soon as you can... because courts sits Next Monday... and if you should think enough of mee... you will oblige much your old friend.."
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