Hebron, December 26th, 1788
The Deposition of Elijah Graves
…He has lived more than fifteen years a near neighbor to Cezar and Lois his wife. During which time he has observed but few if any of the common vices of mankind in them but that they have been diligent and laborious in their calling and a degree of frugality much beyond what is common for people of their colour—Just at the eve of the American War the Rev. Sam’l Peters who then considered Cezar and Lois as his property left them and the rest of his estate and took refuge among the British; whose land was soon after taken by the State’s Attorney and rented out for public use. Cezar and Lois with three children was turned out to procure a living for themselves without much help from their masters property however by good economy and close application to business did procure a very comfortable living some years and in the meantime had two or three children—about four years since Mr. Peters’s estate being relinquished by the public, Cezar moved himself and family again into one of Peters’s houses where he enjoyed himself but for a short season. Peters sending over from London a Power of Attorney appointing John Mark and his son his agents, who not long after made Cezar acquainted that it was their intention to sell him and his family into foreign parts which threw them into great consternation and concern which in fact not long after they really did to one David Prior an inhabitant of South Carolina who came with a wagon and an armed force of seven or eight men towards the close of the day in the month of September and little more than a year since and laid violent hands on his family some of them in irons and threw them into a wagon and drove off with great precipitation whilst their cries and shouts were shocking to human nature; as your deponent was eye witness of this scene it left such an impression on his mind as has not worn out to this day. The minds of people in general appeared to be much agitated and filled with indignation at such cruelties. A number of persons moved with compassion under the cover of lawful authority pursued and over took them 20 miles from this place and within a mile of the vessel bound to the South Carolina which was to receive them on board as I afterward heard … … and took them and brought them back to the place from where they was taken yet still the agents of Mr. Peters manifested a determination to sell and disperse the … family which renders their condition very miserable and unhappy.
Hebron, December 26, 1788
Statement to the court by Elijah Graves
Elijah Graves has lived 15 years as a neighbor to Caesar and Lois Peters. He has seen their good way of living. They work hard and carefully spend their money.
On the eve of the Revolutionary War, Samuel Peters [a Loyalist], who considered them his property, left them and the rest of his property and went for safety to the British side.
His land was taken by the Connecticut Colony and rented out for public use.
Caesar and Lois and their three children had to leave.
By their own hard work and careful living they made a comfortable life for themselves. They had two or three more children. Four years later, they moved back into Peters’s house for a short time.
From London, Peters sent a legal document giving John Mark and his son the right to act on his behalf. John Mark told Caesar that he was going to sell him and his family and take them far away. This made Caesar and his family very upset.
Not long after, David Prior of South Carolina came with a wagon and an armed force of seven or eight men at the end of a September day and threw Caesar’s family into a wagon, some of them in irons, and drove off while Caesar and Lois and their children cried out.
As an eye witness, it was a shocking thing to hear and left such an impression on my mind.
Others were upset, too, and a group of people pursued the captors and caught up with them 20 miles from Hebron and within a mile of the ship that would take them to South Carolina.
They brought them back to the place where they were taken from but still the agents of Mr. Peters tried to sell them and separate the family which makes them miserable and unhappy.