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Descendants of Prince Duplex

First Generation Next Generation

Prince Duplex grave, Danby NY
Prince Duplex
Danby, NY

1. Prince DUPLEX1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 was born in Feb 1754 in Connecticut,8 died on 29 Oct 1825 in Danby, NY8 at age 71, and was buried in 1825 in Danby Presbyterian Cemetery.8,9


Early years: Born a slave in mid-eighteenth century Colonial America, Prince Duplex (1754 - 1825) was raised in the small towns of costal and central Connecticut still linked by Puritan traditions of the original New Haven Colony. His mother served the household of Rev. Benjamin Chapman, a Princeton-educated clergyman and pastor of the Southington Congregational Church. Remembrances of Prince's early life were recalled by the Rev. Heman Timlow (Ecclesiastical and Other Sketches of Southington, Conn., 1875) who noted that "those now living remember Prince and Peter Duplex whose mother was Mr. Chapman's cook." Of this Duplex family, only Prince's life can be traced into the 19th century.

Prince Duplex of Southington is likely the child Prince reported in the baptismal record of the First Congregational Church of Derby, CT, the home township of Rev. Chapman's wife, Abigail, and her parents, Samuel and Abigail (Gunn) Riggs. In the Derby Congregational Church records, Rev. Daniel Humphreys recorded:

July 18, 1756.  Also was baptized Prince, the negro servant child of Samuel Riggs and Abigail, his wife - Town Records of Derby, Connecticut.232

In that same year of 1756 in Derby, the Riggs' daughter, Abigail, married Rev. Chapman and went with him to Southington where he began his service in the pulpit. When Samuel Riggs died fourteen years later in 1770, a probate estate inventory listed his substantial land and chattel holdings, including a "negro boy Prince £50." Abigail, the oldest of three surviving daughters, inherited her share of the estate.233 It seems probable that through this patrimony, Prince was bound to the service of Rev. Chapman.

Samuel Riggs also bequeathed two adult slaves - "Peter" and "Hannah" - to his wife. Whether they were related to Prince or joined him in Southington is not known.

Revolutionary War: On May 18th, 1777, Prince Duplex mustered into the Continental Army as a "free man of color," a status probably granted upon condition of service in the Revolutionary War. He served an initial three-year term from 1777 to 1780, engaging in battles at Mud Island, Germantown and Monmouth. He wintered with George Washington's Continental Army at Valley Forge in 1777-78. In 1782, he reenlisted and served until the War's end in 1783 as a guard with Regiments at Horseneck and Stamford, Connecticut.

Marriage and family in Wolcott, CT: On February 20th, 1782, Prince and Lement Parker were married by Reverend Alexander Gillett, pastor of the Congregational Church in Wolcott, CT, then a rural community near Southington in the low-lying hills west of the Connecticut River valley. By one account, the couple lived on "Wolcott Mountain, on the old road to Wolcott, about a quarter of mile above the grave-yard." A household of five "other free persons" headed by "Prince Duplax" was enumerated in the first Federal Census of 1790 of Connecticut. In 1796, Wolcott separated from Southington as an independently incorporated town. By 1804, Prince's name appeared on Wolcott's tax list of freemen as owner of about two and one-half acres of hillside farm property.

Prince and Lement raised seven children who survived into their adult years. Two other children died in infancy (recorded in Wolcott and Southington church records) and a presumed daughter or granddaughter, Dinah Duplex, died in New Haven in 1821 at age 16.

Duplex children in New Haven: The Duplex children were educated, probably at home and in church, and became involved in community religious and social affairs. Several Duplex children joined the "Center Church on the Green" in New Haven, the first Congregational Church established by Puritan settlers in 1683. Restricted to seats in the church balcony, the Duplexes and other black congregants left to establish the first African American church of New Haven. Prince Duplex Jr., the middle son in the Duplex family, was a leader in the African Ecclesiastical Society, the forerunner of the new church. Established in 1824, the Society evolved into the Temple Street Church, and later the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church. Prince Jr. was the church's first deacon and clerk. In its formative years, the newly organized congregation was lead by the vigorous religious vision of a young abolitionist and Yale divinity student, Simeon S. Jocelyn.

Move to Danby, NY: About 1816, as several of the Duplex children devoted their energies to spiritual uplift and civic work in New Haven's black community, Prince and Lement left Wolcott to join the early pioneer families of Danby, New York, a small village ten miles south of Ithaca and Lake Cayuga. Prince's oldest son George and daughters Arsena and Craty also moved to New York, while Prince Jr. and daughters Sylvia and Vashti remained in New Haven.

In 1819, the Department of War approved Prince's application for Revolutionary War pension benefits as provided for by an 1818 Act of Congress. He received a monthly pension of eight dollars. After his death, the entitlement passed to his wife. At the time of his pension application, he listed personal assets that included "2 drawing knives, 2 wooden plates, 1 axe and hoe, 2 iron teaspoons, 4 jack knives and 1 kettle" with a total value of $4.50. He also listed debts exceeding his assets, but within a few years of receiving his pension allotment, he was able to secure land and establish a forty-five acre farm to support the family.

The Duplex farm in Danby was located a few miles west of the village center. Danby was a stage coach stopover along the Owego-Ithaca Turnpike, an important thoroughfare connecting the Finger Lakes region of New York with south-central New York. The Turnpike became one of the many routes of the Underground Railroad, providing access to Canada for slaves escaping from the South and passing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Final years: Prince Duplex died in 1825 at the age of 71, leaving the farm to his son George. His wife survived him by more than two decades and died in 1847 at the age of 82. Prince and Lement were buried in the Danby Presbyterian Cemetery. The family legacy would grow considerably in the generations that followed as his sons and daughters rose to important positions in the professions and the general affairs of the growing nation.

Descendants: Among the descendants of Prince Duplex and Lement Parker are several noteworthy Americans:

His daughter, Vashti Duplex Creed, was the first African American teacher of New Haven, Conn. Her brother, Prince Duplex, Jr., was cofounder of New Haven's first African American church.

His grandson, Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, M.D., Yale 1857, was the first African American graduate of any department of Yale University.

Another grandson, Edward Parker Duplex, became a successful businessman, political leader among California's Gold Rush pioneers, and mayor of Wheatland, California. He was said to be the first African American elected mayor west of the Mississippi.

A 2nd great grandson, George Duplex Creed, Jr., served in World War I with the Harlem Hellfighters, the much decorated 367th Regiment of the U.S. Army and the first African American regiment to deploy to France during the Great War.

Prince's 3rd great grandson, Leon Vincent Creed, fought in Europe during World War II as a member of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen, the first U.S. African American fighter pilots of the 99th Pursuit Squadron.

A 3rd great granddaughter, Jacqueline Creed Archer, was a noted civil rights activist in Plattsburgh, New York and recipient of an award citation from New York Governor Mario Cuomo as an "African American of Distinction."

Another 3rd great grandson, Andrew Irving Rematore, obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University and was a Professor of Linguistics, Spanish, and Latin-American Literature at the University of Santa Clara in California.

Two 5th grandchildren are the second and third Duplex descendants to become medical physicians, one hundred and fifty years after the first, Dr. Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed.

Revolutionary War pension documents.

Prince married Lement PARKER on 20 Feb 1782 in Wolcott, CT.15 Lement was born on 16 Jul 1764 in Connecticut, died on 4 Jan 1847 in Danby, NY at age 82, and was buried in 1847 in Danby Presbyterian Cemetery.9

• Marriage certification:16

This may certify from the [Wolcott] Congregational Church records in my hands that Prince Duplax and Lament Parker were married by Alexander Gillet the former pastor of said church Feby 20th 1782. Thomas Wilson Clerk of said Church, Nov 3rd 1837.

• Tombstone inscription: Danby Presbyterian Cemetery, Danby, NY.9

Lement DUPLEX died Jan. 4, 1847, aged 82 years 5 months & 19 days
___ died with a hope full of immortality
Ye living friends attend and see
Prepare for death and follow me.

Children from this marriage were:

Note: two unnamed infants who died in 1787 and 1803 are not listed, nor is Dinah Duplex (1805 - 1821) whose parentage is uncertain.235

2 M i.
George DUPLEX17,18,19,20,21 was born about 1782 in Connecticut and died on 13 Sep 1860 in Danby, NY22 about age 78.
3 F ii.
Sylvia DUPLEX was born in 1788 in Wolcott, CT,24 died on 10 Jan 1827 in New Haven, CT25,26,27,28 at age 39, and was buried in Jan 1827 in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT.28 She never married and had no children.
4 F iii.
Arsena DUPLEX20,21,29 was born about 1792 in Wolcott, CT and died before 1870 in Danby, NY.
5 F iv.
Craty DUPLEX30,31,32,33,34 was born about 1794 in Wolcott, CT and died after 1860.
6 M v.
Prince DUPLEX Jr.8,35 was born about 1796 in Wolcott, CT,8 died on 18 Sep 1832 in New Haven, CT8,28,36,37 about age 36, and was buried in Sep 1832 in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT.8,28
7 F vi.
Vashti Elizabeth DUPLEX39,40,41 was born in Jul 1800 in Wolcott, CT,42 died on 15 Jan 1879 in New Haven, CT42 at age 78, and was buried on 19 Jan 1879 in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT.43
8 M vii.
Mark DUPLEX was born about 1802 in Connecticut and died before 1850.