Judith Silberstein

June 15th Event Honors Family Enslaved in Larchmont

Around 100 people gathered at the oldest home in Larchmont on June 15th for an educational program focused on the family of enslaved Africans who worked at the property from 1776-1814. The event was a fundraiser for the monument to be installed at the Mamaroneck Town Center to memorialize all the Africans enslaved in the community. Below are details, photos and pamphlets from the event

Margery and Ted Mayer (below) opened their historic property to members and supporters of REALM (Recognizing Enslaved Africans of Larchmont Mamaroneck), the group commissioning a team of artists to create the memorial.

The Mayer’s property abuts the Premium Mill Pond, the site of colonial era grain mills owned by the Mott family, who were both enslavers and abolitionists. It was also home to Billy, Jinny and their children, who worked there under enslavement and emancipation. (No last name was ever recorded for Billy and Jinny; at least some of the children may have taken the name of Jinny’s enslaver – Underhill.)

Research by local historians, posted on the REALM website at larchmontmamaroneckhistory.org, reveals that over 220 Africans were enslaved in Mamaroneck Township from 1661 to 1822, yet there is very little known about most of them. However, extensive Mott family histories preserved names, portraits and anecdotes about Billy and Jinny.

THE PROGRAM: On June 15th, REALM member Ned Benton (also director of the Northeast Slavery Records Index of John Jay College) shared details of local enslavement and fielded attendees’ questions gathered in the gazebo overlooking the Premium River that once powered the historic property’s grain mill.

In the antique barn behind the house, John Pritts (the Mamaroneck Village historian) discussed the lives of Billy and Jinny.

John Pritts discussed the life of Billy and Jinny in the Premium Mill property’s antique barn.

Susan Emery, a former president of the Larchmont Historical Society, recounted the history of the house and its owners beginning in 1776 with James Mott. Gail Boyle, past-president of the Mamaroneck Historical Society, and Robinette Robinson, a long-time Mamaroneck resident, explained REALM’s mission to honor the enslaved people by creating a permanent memorial and presenting related educational programs.

Suzanne Emery recounted the history of the Premium Mill property.

REALM members Joanne Shaw, Jill Parry and Judy Silberstein registered guests and oriented them to the presentations on the front porch, gazebo, antique barn and dining room.

Colonial era music for the event was provided by Max Lieber, violinist, and Bob Lieber, banjo and guitar player. Among their audience was Larchmont Mayor Sarah Bauer.

Ceramic artists Sarah Coble and Judith Weber displayed a scale model of the memorial designed by the artists in collaboration with architects Mariví Perdomo Caba and Jorge L. Ventura Ovalles. The presentation included samples of the artwork by Sarah Coble and Sana Musasama that will be embedded on both sides of the curved 7×7-foot concrete monument.

Judith Weber, John Pritts, Sarah Coble and Judy Silberstein display an unfinished tile by Sarah Coble that will become part of the memorial.

Additional event planning came from REALM members Sid Albert, a former Mamaroneck Village trustee, Leilani Yizar, a current Mamaroneck Village trustee, and Jackie Lorieo, Co-president of the Mamaroneck Artists Guild.

Local leaders in attendance helped highlight REALM’s fundraising goals for the memorial: (top, l-r) Larchmont Mayor Sarah Bauer, Mamaroneck Councilpersons Sabrina Fiddelman and Robin Nichinsky, and (bottom) New York State Senator Steve Otis with attendee Damian Oarochukwu. REALM aims to raise $150,000 to build the memorial and support related educational programs. 

THANK YOU: The event organizers thanked the Mayers for hosting the event, the Mamaroneck Town Council for its long-term support of the memorial, and Assemblyman Steve Otis and Senator Shelley Mayer for their help in securing two $10,000 New York State Park planning grants. Additional thanks went to ArtsWestchester for providing initial planning grants and the Mamaroneck Historical Society for serving as REALM’s fiscal agent. Other REALM supporters include the Westchester Jewish Center Social Action Group, Larchmont Historical Firefighters, Mamaroneck Artists Guild, League of Women Voters of Larchmont Mamaroneck and Trader Joe’s.

DONATIONS: All funds raised at the event will help REALM meet its goal of $150,000 to develop the memorial and related programs. Contributions of any amount are appreciated and can be by check (made to “The Mamaroneck Historical Society with REALM in the memo line and mailed to MHS, PO Box 776, Mamaroneck, NY 10543) or by credit card online at larchmontmamaroneckslavery.org/donate

FUTURE EVENTS: Upcoming REALM events include a presentation at the Mamaroneck Historical Society on September 17 (details to be determined) and workshops with the REALM artists at the Mamaroneck Public Library on September 28, October 26 and November 23.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: To become a REALM ambassador, share materials, website addresses and other information about the memorial project with friends and neighbors contact lmslavery1@gmail.com