A plaque to be unveiled Saturday, September 18 in Hancock — at the Forest Society's John Kulish Forest/Welch Family Farm and Forest — will be the newest addition to the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire’s statewide historical marker program. Building on the success of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail that began more than two decades ago, the Black Heritage Trail of NH is now a statewide organization that connects the stories of New Hampshire’s African heritage by documenting and marking the many historic sites that testify to this rich history. The marker to be unveiled September 18 will be its first outside of Portsmouth.
The Hancock marker will describe the Due family and Jack, a once-enslaved African who gained his freedom and lived in Hancock in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The Due family, identified in early censuses as free people of color, endured many issues with the Church of Christ in Hancock around the same time.
The unveiling will take place in Hancock on Saturday, September 18, in two parts, starting at 9:30 AM. A bus will leave from the Hancock Town Hall parking lot at 9:30 and head to the site of the former Due home for the unveiling. The property is now owned by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Later that afternoon, starting at 12:00 PM, a celebratory program with music and food will take place at the Hancock Congregational Church, where anti-slavery activities occurred in the early 1840s.
“We are so thrilled to continue the expansion of our statewide historical markers into the Monadnock Region,” said JerriAnne Boggis, executive director of Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. “The marker we’ll unveil in September also recognizes the work that so many in Hancock are doing to advance community conversations about race and to specifically honor Jack, a once-enslaved African who lived in Hancock and whose name is forever linked to one of Hancock’s hidden gems, Jack’s Pond.”
“We are pleased to be able to join forces with JerriAnne and the Black Heritage Trail to not only bringing the Due story to light but to also use the marker as a catalyst for ongoing conversations about race,” said Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “This land came to us as the Welch Family Farm and Forest in recognition of a century of one family’s stewardship, and now we welcome the opportunity to recognize and share the story of the Due family and their imprint on this land.”
“What little we know about the Jack and the Due family we’ve learned from bits and pieces of history and from those diligent enough to keep digging and interpreting their stories,” said Eric Aldrich, a writer from Hancock. “Communities like Hancock, Milford, Warner, and others throughout the state are learning more about Black history, thanks to the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire and its encouragement of people willing to dig deep into these stories and to share them.”
Pre-registration for the September 18 event in Hancock is required and space is limited. For information, visit blackheritagetrailnh.org.
On September 11, the week prior to the marker unveiling, the Harris Center for Conservation Education and Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire will co-sponsor a hike to Jack’s Pond in Hancock. The 1.75-mile round-trip hike will start from the Harris Center on Saturday, September 11, at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is required, and space is limited. For information, visit harriscenter.org.