Fortune Comes Home

Finally, after 215 years, a slave named Fortune was laid to rest in Waterbury Thursday. What was billed as a “Coming Home Service for Mr. Fortune” drew hundreds of mourners for a funeral ceremony at St. John’s Episcopal Church conducted by Rev. Amy D. Welin.  A burial service followed at Riverside Cemetery under a steady rain and rumbling thunder. Fortune died in a drowning accident in 1798, and his bones had been used for years for anatomical studies, first by his owner, Dr. Preserved Porter in the late 18th century. In 1933, Fortune’s bones were donated by a descendent of Dr. Porter to the Mattatuck Museum where his skeleton, called “Larry,” was on exhibit for nearly 30 years.  In the 1970s the skeleton was removed from display and in the 1990s, the museum’s African American History Project Committee worked with anthropologists from the New York Burial Ground Project to discover Fortune’s story.  Now the museum has unveiled a permanent exhibit of Fortune’s story and the history of slavery in Waterbury.  And Fortune has at last come home to rest. To learn more, click here for a story by Susan Dunne and Daniela Altimari.

WATERBURY 09/12/13 A mourner places a bouquet of flowers on a casket holding the remains of Fortune, a slave who died in Waterbury in 1798. A funeral service was held at St. John's Episcopal Church followed by a bural at Riverside Cemetery in Waterbury Thursday. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

WATERBURY 09/12/13 A mourner places a bouquet of flowers on a casket holding the remains of Fortune, a slave who died in Waterbury in 1798. A funeral service was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church followed by a bural at Riverside Cemetery in Waterbury Thursday. CLOE POISSON|cpoisson@courant.com

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