Birth & Death Dates Unknown — Appears in 1794 Records
Flanna was a ten-year-old girl owned by the Reverend Mase Shepard. If Joshua Richmond’s story about Colonel William Richmond giving Mase Shepard one of Saul and his wife‘s children is true, Flanna may have been that child. Mase arranged for Flanna to be freed at the age of twenty-one. Because she was born just a few months before the cut-off date in Rhode Island’s Gradual Emancipation Act, Flanna would have been a slave for life without Mase’s efforts to free her.
At this Council appeared ye Rev. Mase Shepard and Presented his Black Girl Named Flanna a Servant or Slave for life aged ten years January 1794 agreeable to a law of this State So that She May Be free at twenty one years old and the Council Taking the same into consideration Mutually agree to Determine the Same Next Session.Town Council RecordsLittle Compton Town Council and Probate Records, Book 3, 283.
And five months later:
At this Council Was Presented By Mr. Mase Shepard a Black Negro Girl Named Flanna A Person that is Sound in Body and Mind to Be Immancipated That she may be free at the age of twenty one years old and the Council Manimate Said Negro Girl agreeable to the act of the General Assembly Made.Town Council RecordsLittle Compton Town Council and Probate Records, Book 3, 287.
Marjory Gomez O’Toole, Executive Director, LCHS
First published in “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold: Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island,” by the Little Compton Historical Society, 2016.