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Horace Cowles House
Photo courtesy of Ron M. Bernard

The Horace Cowles House, c. 1769, is one of several houses in this itinerary within the Farmington Historic District associated with the Mende's stay in Farmington. Houses in the historic district date from 1720 to 1835. Farmington was a prosperous commercial center and the 10th most populous town in the colonies at the time of the American revolution.

Horace Cowles, an early advocate of abolition, was a prominent member of the Missionary and Anti-Slavery Societies formed in Farmington in the 1830s, and purportedly an Underground Railroad stationmaster. Many of the officers of the Hartford County Anti-Slavery Society and of the Connecticut Society were Farmington abolitionists and included Cowles, John Treadwell Norton, Samuel Deming and Austin Williams, all of whom were involved in assisting escaped slaves for many years. These were the men who brought the freed Mende to Farmington after the trial.

[Photo] Historic photo of Horace Cowles House
Photo courtesy of the Farmington Historical Society

While the Mende men were lodged together, the three small Mende girls were placed with sympathetic Farmington families. One of the three Mende girls, believed to be Teme (or Tamie) lived with the Cowles family. She attended school with the other Mende for five hours each morning and also learned domestic skills with the family’s children. Teme also lived with another Farmington resident, J. M. Brown, but exactly when is not known--possibly towards the end of the Mende’s eight-month stay in Farmington, by which time Horace Cowles had became ill. Cowles died the following year, and the property was inherited by Samuel Smith Cowles, who continued his father’s Underground Railroad work. He also edited an anti-slavery newspaper, The Charter Oak, and published several anti-slavery books.

The Horace Cowles House is located at 27 Main St. in the Farmington Historic District. It is a private home and is not open to the public.

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