Jacob and Mary Francis Gravesite Commemoration Unveiling of Cemetery Interpretive Panel
Sunday, June 25, 2023 at 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Jacob Francis was a free Black man born in Amwell Township and died in Flemington, New Jersey. During his long life, he was involved in both the American Revolution and the struggle for equal rights.
Bound out as an indentured servant from childhood until age 21, he lived in New Jersey, New York, St. John in the West Indies, and Salem, Massachusetts. After completing his indenture time, he enlisted in the Continental army in October 1775 at a time when General Washington was trying to prevent Black men from enlisting. He served through the siege of Boston, the New York Campaign, and the Battle of Trenton before his enlistment expired on January 1, 1777. After his Continental service, he served in the Third Hunterdon County Regiment of the New Jersey militia for the remainder of the war. He had survived great hardships and dangers while performing in a complimentary fashion.
He fulfilled his vision of becoming a successful farmer and raising a family. In 1789 he married an enslaved woman named Mary, purchased her, and set her free. Together they raised nine children. Jacob and Mary became well-respected members of the Flemington Baptist Church and resided for several decades in Flemington. Their youngest son, Abner Hunt Francis, became very well educated and spent his adult life working for the cause of abolition and equal rights for all people. He had been inspired by his father, whom he always said, the “principles of ’76, which led … his country to throw off the British yoke, actuated my father to shoulder his musket and serve through a bloody contest. And not only my father’s but the blood of colored men were freely shed in that struggle for national independence.”
The fight for independence during the American Revolution was successful during his lifetime, but the revolution to guarantee equal rights for all people still went on.
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