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

Since 2019 the Greenwich Historical Society has collaborated with The Witness Stones Project on this initiative that seeks to teach school-age children about enslaved persons in their hometowns. Students from Sacred Heart Greenwich and Greenwich Academy have researched the lives of Cull Bush Sr., Patience, Cull Bush Jr., Jack, 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

According to Historical Society research, approximately 300 enslaved people resided in Greenwich. Altogether, about 15 enslaved people worked at the Bush-Holley House. All lived and worked for David Bush and family at the Bush-Holley House. “Witness Stone Memorials” cast from cement and bronze with engravings of each person’s name, known birth and death dates and primary occupations, are placed in a garden below an attic believed to be 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 annual ceremony is the culmination of their work over many months. The remaining 9 enslaved people from Greenwich will be honored in future years as the initiative expands to other schools in town.

May 27, 2021 Ceremony

The May 27, 2021 ceremony honored four individuals — Cull Bush and his partner Patience, and Candice Bush and her daughter Hester Mead. Dennis Culliton, founder and executive director of The Witness Stones Project, and Teresa Vega, historian and genealogist gave opening remarks. Teachers Kelly Bridges and Angela Carstensen, from Sacred Heart Greenwich, and Kristen Erickson and Bobby Walker, from Greenwich Academy, worked with their students to research the lives of Cull, Patience, Candice and Hester. Their hard work and research was presented in a set of speeches from student representatives of each class and read during the ceremony. After closing remarks those in attendance had the honor of witnessing the placement of the stones.

May 25, 2022 Ceremony

The May 25, 2022 ceremony honored Jack, eldest son of Candice and brother of Hester, and Cull Jr. youngest son of Cull Bush Sr., and Patience. Dennis Culliton, founder and executive director of The Witness Stones Project, and Teresa Vega, historian and genealogist gave opening remarks. Teachers Heather Coffey and Angela Carstensen, from Sacred Heart Greenwich, and Bobby Walker, from Greenwich Academy, worked with their students to research the lives of Cull Jr. and Jack. Their hard work and research was presented in a set of speeches from student representatives, Isabella Nedder and Gabrielle Hughes from Sacred Heart Greenwich, and read during the ceremony. Teacher Bobby Walker presented his student’s speech for Greenwich Academy. After closing remarks those in attendance had the honor of witnessing the placement of the stones.

Cull Bush Sr.

Cull was one of the 15 known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. The earliest known record of Cull is in the first United States Census in 1790. Although we do not know when Cull was first enslaved at the Bush household, 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 6. He was a loyal partner to the mother of his children, Patience, who too was enslaved by the Bush family. Once freed, he was a head of a house and a landowner who bought and sold property in Cos Cob. Most of all, Cull was an achiever. In a world systematically stacked against him Cull created a family, a home and a career.

Patience

Patience was one of the 15 known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. Our first known record of Patience is a document recording the birth of her first child, Phillis. Over the next twelve years, Patience and her partner Cull had 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 was 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 despite the hardest of situations, and the strength to see them go into the world, free, but without her.

Cull Bush Jr.

Cull Bush Jr. was one of the 15 enslaved people held at the Bush-Holley House. He was the youngest child of Cull Bush Sr. and Patience, who were also enslaved by the Bush family. Unlike his five older sisters, who were sent to work in other households once they were old enough to work independently – sometime between the ages of 7 and 12 – Cull Jr. grew up in the Bush household with his mother. His father, who has been freed just a year after Cull Jr. was born, lived nearby and was likely a continued presence in his life.

Thanks to the Gradual Emancipation Acts, Cull Jr. was freed when he turned 21 years old. He built a home next to his father’s in Cos Cob and married a woman named Cordelia. The couple had nine children together and their descendants continued to live in the area for generations to come. Some still live locally to this day.

Candice Bush

Candice was one of the 15 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 by 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 lived 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 formerly enslaved people in Greenwich to have headstones. 
 

Hester Mead

Hester was one of the 15 known enslaved persons held at the Bush-Holley House. She was 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 had a son, William, and eventually lived with him and her mother together in Hangroot.
 
Hester built a legacy. In her will her possessions, which included money, dresses, silver and books, are divided between her granddaughters. She also set aside money for headstones to be placed for her mother and herself. Hester and Candice are the only formerly enslaved people in Greenwich with headstones. They stand to this day as testaments to Hester’s ability to succeed in a world that was stacked against her. 

Jack

Jack was one of the 15 enslaved people held at the Bush-Holley House. He was the oldest child of Candice Bush and the brother of Hester, who were also enslaved by the Bush family. Jack was among the last of the enslaved children born in the Bush-Holley House, along with his sister Hester and their peer Cull Jr. However – unlike the children born the decade before – Jack, Hester and Cull Jr. all lived and worked at the Bush household until they came of age. This meant that jack had the benefit of growing up with his mother and a tight-knit family group, which was not a common experience for enslaved children of the time.

Jack, Hester and Cull Jr. were all freed by the Gradual Emancipation Acts when they turned 21 years old. Once he was a free man and his choices were his own to make, it appears that Jack chose to leave Greenwich for good. We have not yet discovered records indicating where jack went to build his new life, leaving his adulthood a mystery. If you have any information about Jack, please contact hlodge@greenwichhistory.org.

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