A plaque to be unveiled September 18 in Hancock will be the newest addition to the Black Heritage Trail of NH’s statewide historical marker program.
Building on the success of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail that began more than two decades ago, the Black Heritage Trail of NH is now a statewide organization that connects the stories of the state's African heritage by documenting and marking the many historic sites that testify to this history. Two dozen markers in Portsmouth have shed light on that city’s Black history for several years.
This fall, the organization is planning to unveil markers in Hancock, Milford, Warner, and two other NH communities that hold stories of Black history. The marker to be unveiled September 18 in Hancock will be the organization's first outside Portsmouth.
The Hancock marker will describe the Due family and Jack, a once-enslaved African who gained his freedom and lived in Hancock in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The Due family, identified in early censuses as free people of color, endured many issues with the Church of Christ in Hancock around the same time.
The unveiling will take place in Hancock on Saturday, September 18, in two parts, starting at 9:30 AM. The bus will leave from the Hancock Town Hall parking lot and head to the site of the former Due Family home for the unveiling. The property is now owned by the Society for the Protection of NH Forests (SPNHF). Later that afternoon, starting at noon, a celebratory program with music and food will take place at the Hancock Congregational Church, where anti-slavery activities occurred in the early 1840s.
“We are so thrilled to continue the expansion of our statewide historical markers into the Monadnock Region,” said JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of Black Heritage Trail of NH. “The marker ... recognizes the work that so many in Hancock are doing to advance community conversations about race and to specifically honor Jack, a once-enslaved African who lived in Hancock and whose name is forever linked to one of Hancock’s hidden gems, Jack’s Pond.”
“We are pleased to be able to join forces with JerriAnne and the Black Heritage Trail in not only bringing the Due story to light, but also to use it catalyst for ongoing conversations about race,” said Jack Savage, president of the SPNHF. “This land came to us as the Welch Family Farm and Forest in recognition of a century of one family’s stewardship, and now we welcome the opportunity to recognize and share the story of the Due family and their imprint on this land.”
"What little we know about the Jack and the Due family we've learned from bits and pieces of history and from those diligent enough to keep digging and interpreting their stories," said Eric Aldrich, a writer from Hancock. "Communities like Hancock, Milford, Warner, and others throughout the state are learning more about Black history, thanks to the Black Heritage Trail of NH and its encouragement of people willing to dig deep into these stories and to share them."
Pre-registration for the event in Hancock is required and space is limited. For information, visit blackheritagetrailnh.org.