Jacob Francis

1754 – 1836

I started life in servitude and ended it in freedom.

I was born in Amwell Township, Hunterdon County in 1754. My mother was a black woman and I was an indentured servant for a local farmer. My servitude was resold several times until I was about 13 years old, and my last master Joseph Saxton took me to New York, St. John in the Caribbean, and finally Salem, Massachusetts. When my servitude expired and I became free in January 1775, I enlisted in the 16th Continental Regiment, using the last name Gulick which came from one of my previous owners.

When the British left Boston, the Continental Army went to New York City, and I fought in battles on Long Island and White Plains, before the Retreat Across New Jersey took us to Pennsylvania. On Christmas Night, 1776, I was part of Washington’s Crossing during the Ten Crucial Days battles at Trenton and Princeton.

Several days later at the beginning of 1777, I went home to Amwell to find my mother was ill. She told me my real last name was Francis so I became Jacob Francis when I joined the Third Hunterdon militia, and was in service every other month for the rest of the war. One time, I was captured during a skirmish with some Hessians, but I was able to escape and rejoin my company.

After the war, I purchased a black woman named Mary, and we were married in September 1789 at the home of her former master. I lived a long life and died on July 26, 1836.


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