Thomas Powell Farmstead: A Virtual Tour of an African American Heritage Site
This presentation by Dr. Mike Lucas, divided into five segments, provides an overview of the Thomas Powell Homestead site located in Colonie, New York. Dr. Lucas describes the history, layout, and archaeology of the Powell family farmstead through an on-site tour.
Thomas Powell and his wife Betty were married in the Dutch Reformed church at Boght Corners in 1808. At the time, they were both still enslaved by the Fonda and Lansing families of Watervliet. Between 1808 and 1818 the couple worked to gain their freedom and amass the capital to purchase the farmstead outright from the Fonda family in 1818. It was here that three generations of the Powell family lived at the homestead and built a successful farm against steep odds. A virtual tour of the excavations around the house foundations will describe how Thomas and Betty started with a small 16 by 16-foot house and continually expanded the building through the 19th century as their family and fortunes grew. Various stakeholders are currently working toward preserving the ruins of the house and farmstead and in the process also preserving an important American story.