Some Cuffe and Wainer Family Connections

By Richard Gifford

Capt. Pardon  Cook (1792-1849) Son-in-law of Paul Cuffe, resided on Drift Road, Westport. Whaling captain, commanded the June and Elizabeth. An 1843 profile in The Liberator stated that Cook disproves “the charge of his being indebted for his abilities to any white blood he possesses, for few are darker than he. He has performed three voyages from Westport as a master, and in every instance has succeeded in making good voyages, better than any other vessel from the same place, considering the amount of capital invested.”

Nathaniel A. Borden (ca. 1805-1851). Brother-in-law of Pardon Cook, lived at 26 Wing Street, New Bedford. In 1839 Borden likely became the first African-American candidate for any state elective office. The recently arrived Frederick Douglass paid the $1.50 poll tax to cast his first vote for Borden.

Capt. Absalom Boston (1785-1855)  Brother-in-law of Pardon Cook. Whaling captain. Filed a lawsuit causing integration of Nantucket schools in 1845.

Thomas Smith Boston (1838-1893). Nephew of Pardon Cook. Musical prodigy, widely acclaimed concert pianist, opera baritone and composer, in addition to careers as a banker and doctor. In 1860 he lived at Westport Point.

Capt. John Wainer (1782-1869) Son of Michael  Wainer, grandson of Cuffe Slocum. A whaling captain and farmer residing on Drift Road in Westport, husband of Mary (Easton) Wainer. An 1843 profile in The Liberator states that Wainer’s “children were for a long time denied access to the district school on the same terms as the children of their white neighbors, but by unconquered adherence to principle and his rights as a citizen, he has at length obtained for his children an equal footing in the.school.”

Rev. Hosea Easton (1798-1837). Brother of Mary (Easton) Wainer. Minister, abolitionist, author of A Treatise on the Intellectual Character, and Civil and Political Condition of the Colored People of the United States, and the Prejudice Exercised Towards Them; With a Sermon on the Duty of the Church to Them (1837).

 James Easton (1754-1830). Father of Mary (Easton) Wainer. Entrepreneur, owner of iron works in Bridgewater, MA, contractor of major  construction projects in early 19th century, Revolutionary War hero at Ft. Ticonderoga.

Alexander Howard, Jr (1818-1890) Grandson of Paul Cuffe. Hotelier and restauranteur, with wife Rebecca “Aunt Becky” (Groundage) Howard owned and operated Pacific House in Olympia, Washington Territory, where they hosted President Rutherford B. Hayes and Gen. William T. Sherman.

Paul C. Howard (1820-1848) Grandson of Paul Cuffe. Tailor, civil rights activist in New Bedford, in 1842 arrested for refusing to surrender his seat in a “whites only” passenger car of the New Bedford & Taunton Railroad. At one meeting of New Bedford abolitionists, Paul C. Howard was the featured speaker -second billing went to Frederick Douglass.

Shadrach Howard (1821-1874) Grandson of Paul Cuffe. Like his brother Paul, arrested for assault when a conductor on the New Bedford & Taunton Railroad forcibly removed him from his seat in a “whites only” passenger car in 1841. Entrepreneur; manufacturer of hydraulic equipment in San Francisco used by Gold Rush miners. Father of Horatio P. Howard (1854- 1923), a customs official in Manhattan, who did much to memorialize the achievements of his great-grandfather , including the placement of the Paul Cuffe monument outside the Westport Friends Meeting House.

Richard Johnson (1780-1853) Son-in-law of Paul Cuffe and step-father of the Howard brothers. Abolitionist leader, commercial real estate investor, whaling agent. By the time of his death he was the wealthiest person of color in New Bedford -and perhaps the nation.

Edwin Bush Jourdain (1865-1938) Great-great grandson of Cuffe Slocum. A lawyer and civil rights activist of New Bedford , associate of William Monroe Trotter and W. E. B. DuBois, participant in the Niagara Movement and the founding of the NAACP .

Edwin Bush Jourdain, Jr (1900-1986) As an undergraduate, led the fight to integrate dormitories at Harvard. Journalist, politician, and civil rights activist, in the 1930s Jourdain organized sit-ins resulting in the integration of beaches and theaters in suburban Chicago. Associate of Clarence Darrow and W. E .B. DuBois.

Daniel Page (1759-1829)  Brother-in-law of David Cuffe. A Wampanoag living at Watuppa Reservation, Page was a whaleboat handler in the daring Revolutionary War raid of Lt. Col. William Barton resulting in the capture of Gen. Richard Prescott at Middletown, RI.

Benjamin Franklin Roberts (1815-1881). Nephew of Mary (Easton) Wainer. One of the first African-American printers, in 1838 published Boston’s first African-American newspaper, the Anti-Slavery Herald . In 1844 he published Robert Benjamin Lewis’ Light and Truth, a groundbreaking history of the African-American experience.

Sarah Clarissa (Roberts) Casniau (1843-1896) Grand.:.niece of Mary (Easton) Wainer. Plaintiff in landmark Boston school desegregation lawsuit resulting in MA legislature outlawing separate schools for people of color in 1855.

Robert Roberts (1780-1860). Brother-in-law of Mary (Easton) Wainer. Butler for several prominent Boston families; first African-American author of a commercially published book, The House Servant’s Directory: A Monitor for Private Families (1827).

David Franklin Wainer (1826-1910) Son of John & Mary (Easton) Wainer. Shipbuilder at the Head of Westport. His death certificate reads: “Man of 85 who persisted in working until he could no longer walk, then went to bed and died in 10 days. I am unable to find any evidence that any disease was the cause of death.”

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