AFRICANS AND ATLANTIC CREOLES,
ENSLAVED AND FREE (cont'd)
at Philipsburg Manor, Upper Mills
initial group of enslaved people at Philipsburg may well have come
from the Kongo
Kingdom of Angola. In 1685, nearly 150 Africans boarded Philipse's ship,
the Charles, at the port of Soyo. These people were probably prisoners
of war from the Kongo. The ship first stopped in Barbados, where 105
sold. The voyage ended in Rye, where the remaining nine slaves disembarked.
Eight of these people probably formed the initial community at the
Mills of Philipsburg.
(meaning "of the Kongo") people probably served as the imprint group for
the African community at Philipsburg Manor. The B'Kongo culture was highly
structured and sophisticated. The B'Kongo people were known as successful
rice farmers. While this skill was not immediately transferable to the
Hudson Valley because of its colder climate, general knowledge of growing
and processing grain was. The Congolese were also famous for their blacksmithing.
the most intriguing aspects of B'Kongo culture was its open and accepting
theology, one that centered on ancestor worship and intercession by a
group of deities who answered to a supreme deity. Some B'Kongo people
also incorporated aspects of Christianity, introduced by the Portuguese
in the form of Roman Catholicism during the 15th century, into their religious
belief system without diluting their faith. In addition, the Portuguese
slave traders instituted the practice of baptizing those who were about
to undertake the Middle Passage, and thus it is possible that this initial
group of Africans living at Philipsburg was familiar with Catholicism.
African ethnic group represented among the slaves associated with the
Philipse family is the Akan-speaking people of the West African coast.
The Akan were particularly skilled sailors and a number of the enslaved
people who were involved in Philipse family enterprises worked on board
ships, a common pattern in the American colonies. Wills, probate inventories,
and other manuscripts contain names that are Akan in origin. Even if Amba,
Cuffee, and Joe, and others were not born in West Africa-and they may
well have been-their names were.
1680 and 1750, most of the people who lived at Philipsburg were African
or of African descent. The enslaved Africans constructed, operated, and
resided on a complex that consisted of a mill, manor house, bake house,
slave house, wharves, and a church. Dina, Caesar, and Venture among others
labored as millers, bakers, sailors, dairy workers, coopers, and servants.
They and the other 20 enslaved men, women and children living here at
the time of Philipse's death in 1750 formed a community.