Wat and Ezekiel
The papers of Silas Casey (1731-1814) held two important clues toward uncovering the lives of two enslaved African American people, Wat and Ezekiel. Because Silas Casey also owned land in nearby East Greenwich, we have no direct evidence that these men lived at Casey Farm, but they were bonded to the Casey family. Scholar Christy Clark-Pujara in her book Dark Work: The Business of Slavery in Rhode Island gives us some insight into the culture of the Narragansett Planters and their reliance on people like Wat and Ezekiel:
Farmers began moving to the Narragansett Country in the 1690s and would soon amass their wealth from large stock and dairy farms worked by bonded laborers. They initially relied on indentured Native Americans but replaced them with enslaved Africans. By the 1730s, the Narragansett Country was home to between twenty to thirty settler families and their bonds people. African slaves had slowly been brought into the Narragansett from the West Indies starting around 1700, and by 1740 the Narragansett Country had the highest concentration of enslaved people in the colony, many of whom came directly from Africa. By 1755, one out of every three residents was enslaved.
Below, you can read their deeds of purchase in either 1760s script or the transcriptions. You can also try to read between the lines to find something about the lives of people who, against their will, did so much to build up Rhode Island.
You can find a more complete account of the history of enslaved people associated with Casey Farm at the Rhode Island Slave History Medallion project’s website: https://rishm.org/washington-county/north-kingstown/casey-farm/. Our RISHM marker is dedicated to Wat, Ezekiel, and all of the enslaved people bonded to the Morey/Coggeshall/Casey family, along with numerous unnamed and unrecorded people who worked these lands.