Portsmouth in Rockingham County, New Hampshire — The American Northeast (New England)
Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
Siras, in 1783, contracted with John Langdon to serve as a “domestic servant." Among Langdon's papers, itemized bills for "Siras de Bruce" confirm descriptions of his resplendent, even dazzling attire: white breeches, blue or black coats, silk threads and metal buttons. Siras, paid in cash, goods, and housing on the property, stayed on until 1789.
In 1785 Siras married Flora Stoodley, who had earlier been enslaved by the owner of Stoodley's Tavern.
Erected by Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.
Location. 43° 4.508′ N, 70° 45.376′ W. Marker is in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in Rockingham County. Marker is on Pleasant Street south of Court Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is a metal plaque mounted on the white fence in front of the historic Governor John Langdon House. Marker is at or near this postal address: 143 Pleasant Street, Portsmouth NH 03801, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The South Church (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Joseph & Nancy (Cotton) and their children, Eleazor & James Temple Israel (about 500 feet away); Haven Park (about 500 feet away); On this site was born Fitz John Porter (about 600 feet away); Treaty of Portsmouth 1905 (about 600 feet away); Nation's Oldest Bank (about 700 feet away); Negro Pews (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
Also see . . .
1. Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail.
Siras Bruce was emancipated by John Langdon, after which he worked for him as a paid servant. This arrangement was underway by 1783, when Langdon was building this mansion on Pleasant Street. Siras received part of his pay in cash, part in goods, and by 1797 part in housing. Siras and his wife, the former Flora Stoodley, lived behind the mansion in one of two houses Governor Langdon owned on Washington Street. Siras was no doubt present when George Washington had dinner at the Langdon’s in November 1789. (Submitted on April 7, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Did NH Governor John Langdon Own Slaves?.
Siras Bruce (Langdon spelled his name “Cyrus de Bruce”) was likely enslaved at some point. At least one historian claims he was sold out of New Jersey to John Langdon. No documents show that Siras Bruce was enslaved or freed here in New Hampshire. What we have instead are contracts, beginning in 1783, stating that he was a paid domestic servant of the Langdon family. Bruce was a handsome black man clearly of African origin, but not enslaved. (Submitted on April 7, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Juneteenth celebration highlights Black Heritage Trail of NH.
“One of my ancestor’s emancipated workers was Siras Bruce, who was a kind of ‘major domo’ of the house, greeting and serving the Langdon guests. When I thought about where to donate the tray, it occurred to me that Siras or a successor must have handled it far more than any of my ancestors. The people who cared for and used the tray were probably all African American servants who were either released from slavery or whose parents had been released. So, it seemed to me it was more of a part of their story than the Langdons themselves.” (Submitted on April 7, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • African Americans • Colonial Era • Notable Buildings • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2018. This page originally submitted on April 7, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 66 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 7, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.