New Insights into the Remarkable Life of Paul Cuffe and His Family

Recent intensive research on many matters relating to Paul Cuffe and his family has produced some interesting new insights into his life as well as that of other family members.

Some of the highlights of this research are the following:

  • Greater certainty as to the timing and people involved in freeing Cuff Slocum, Paul Cuffe’s father, from slavery around 1745, as well as whom he worked for and what he did over the next two decades to earn enough money to buy two farm properties, one of 150 acres in northwest Rhode Island purchased in 1764 and one of 120 acres in Dartmouth, MA, purchased in 1766.
  • A continuous record of the subsequent owners of the Cuff Slocum property on Old County Road in Westport that provided the basis for naming the new solar farm located on part of his original farm as the Cuff Slocum Community Solar Farm in his honor by the Clean Energy Collective.
  • A rigorous determination of the property holdings of Paul Cuffe during his lifetime, including his wharf and homestead on the west bank of the East Branch of the Westport River, a large farm in the same area that he bought and quickly transferred to his sister and brother-in-law, Michael Wainer, his windmill at Westport Point, and several properties that he acquired in the process of helping widows meet the obligations of recently deceased husbands.
  • A similar determination of the various property holdings of Michael Wainer that help to trace his career from a tanner based at Russells Mills to a major farmer at a large property near Paul Cuffe’s homestead on Drift Road in Westport.

These findings have provided a basis for laying out a heritage trail to be called “The Paul Cuffe African-American and Native-American Heritage Trail,” that will commemorate the achievements of this remarkable family and their contributions to the life of this community some two centuries ago. The sites on the trail may include the following:

  1. Paul Cuffe Memorial at Friends Meeting House in Westport.
  2. Paul and Alice Cuffe graves at Friends Meeting House in Westport.
  3. Site of windmill at Westport Point owned by Paul Cuffe, Washington Davis and Samuel Hicks.
  4. Paul Cuffe’s wharf on the East Branch of the Westport River.
  5. Paul Cuffe’s homestead on Drift Road in Westport.
  6. Michael Wainer’s farm on Drift Road in Westport.
  7. Cuff Slocum’s house and farm at 761 Old County Road in Westport.
  8. New Solar Farm on the western part of the Cuff Slocum farm.
  9. Howard (Cuffe) cemetery at corner of Fisher and Old County Road on Westport/Dartmouth boundary.
  10. Michael and Mary Slocum Wainer’s first home and possible tannery at site of Davoll’s Store in Russells Mills, Dartmouth.
  11. Captain Paul Cuffe Park in New Bedford, near site of Cuffe and Howard’s store.

Research by David Cole, Betty Slade, and Richard Gifford.