Through research, education, and civic engagement, the WITNESS STONES PROJECT, Inc. seeks to restore the history and to honor the humanity and contributions of the enslaved individuals who helped build our communities.

Witness Stones Placement Ceremony

Since 2019, the Greenwich Historical Society has worked with the Witness Stones Project and students from Sacred Heart Greenwich and Greenwich Academy to research the lives of Cull Bush, Patience, Candice Bush, and Hester Mead.  Together, we are bearing witness to the lives of these enslaved individuals who lived, worked and loved in this historic home.

Hester Mead (1807–1864) The Jabez Mead House, ca. 1840 Watercolor on paper. 21.5 x 25.5 inches. Greenwich Historical Society, Museum Purchase, 2006.02

The Historical Society collaborated with The Witness Stone Project on this initiative that seeks to teach school-age children about enslaved persons in their hometowns.  According to Historical Society research, approximately 300 enslaved people resided in Greenwich.

The May 27, 2021 ceremony honored four individuals — Cull Bush and his partner Patience, and Candice Bush and her daughter Hester Mead — who all lived and worked for David Bush and family at the Bush-Holley House. Altogether, about 15 enslaved people worked at the house.   “Witness Stone Memorials” cast from cement and bronze with engravings of each person’s name, known birth and death dates and primary occupations, were placed in a garden believed to be below an attic where most of the enslaved people lived.

Students and teachers from Sacred Heart Greenwich and Greenwich Academy worked in conjunction with the Historical Society in researching the daily lives of the enslaved. The ceremony was the culmination of their work over the past year-and-a-half. The remaining 11 enslaved people from Greenwich will be honored in future years as the initiative expands to other schools in town.

Cull Bush Sr.

Cull was one of the fifteen known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. Our earliest known rerecord of Cull is in the first United States Census in 1790. We do not know when Cull was first enslaved at the Bush household, but we know he was held there until 1803, the year of his emancipation.

Cull spent half his live enslaved, but that is only half of his story. Cull was also a father of six. He was loyal partner to the mother of his children, Patience, who too was enslaved by the Bush family. He was a head of a house, a landowner who bought and sold property across Cos Cob. Most of all, Cull was an achiever. In a world systematically stacked against him, Cull created family, a home, and career.

Patience

Patience was one of the fifteen known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. Our first known record of Patience is document recording the birth of her first child, Phillis. Over the next twelve years, Patience, and her partner Cull, would have five more children together: Milley, Rose, Lucy, Nanny, and Cull Jr. 
 
Thanks to the Gradual Emancipation Act, all of Patience’s children became free upon turning 21 years old. Cull too, would be freed not long after the birth of their youngest child. But Patience would never be free; she remained enslaved at the Bush household until her death circa 1830. 
 
Patience can be remembered in the moments of strength born from love; the strength to bring six children into this world, the strength to help them grow the hardest of situations, and the strength to see them go into the world, free, but without her.

Candice Bush

Candice was one of the fifteen known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. Our earliest known rerecord of Candice is in the first United States Census in 1790, in which she is listed among the enslaved. She was 10 years old. 
 
Candice would remain enslaved to the Bush family until just before her 45th birthday in 1820. By the laws of the time, this was the oldest an enslaved person could be and still qualify for emancipation.
 
In freedom, Candice formed a household in Hangroot with her daughter, Hester, and her grandson, William. She would live in this house, with the ones she loved, until her death in 1840. 
 
Candice is buried in Union Cemetery. She and her daughter are the only the only formerly enslaved people in Greenwich to have headstones. 
 

Hester Mead

Hester was one of the fifteen known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. She the last of eight enslaved children born there. Her mother, Candice, had been bound by the Bushes since she herself was a small child. 
 
Thanks to the Gradual Emancipation Act, Hester became free upon her 21st birthday and lived the rest of her life in freedom. She would have a son, William, and eventually come to live with him and her mother together in Hangroot.
 
Hester built a legacy. In her will, her possessions, which include not only money, but dresses, silver, and books, are divided between her granddaughters. She also sets aside money for headstones to be placed for both her and her mother. This makes Hester and Candice are the only formally enslaved people in Greenwich with headstones. They stand to this day, as testament to Hester’s ability to succeed in a world that was stacked against her. 

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