About Founded in 2017, the Lost Souls Public Memorial Project is a grassroots, community-based effort to remember those 137 African Americans whose freedom was stolen by a corrupt Middlesex County (New Jersey) judge in 1818.

The Lost Souls Public Memorial Project

The Lost Souls Public Memorial Project (LSP) of New Jersey is a non-profit organization that endeavors to pay tribute to the lives of Black women, children, and men who were unlawfully sold during the domestic slave trade. In 1818, officials holding offices of public trust facilitated the transportation of these individuals from New Jersey and surrounding areas to plantations in the Deep South. The project recognizes the humanity of these individuals and seeks to raise awareness of their stories.

 

Our mission has three main objectives. 

 

1. Through ongoing research, the project aims to connect the Lost Souls with their New Jersey communities while tracing their lives in the Deep South. 

 

2. Through public events and teacher training, the project aims to raise awareness about New Jersey’s role in the domestic slave trade and history of slavery in the state.

 

3. As a testament to their resilience, our goal is to create a dedicated living memorial in present-day East Brunswick, NJ that recognizes the agency of the Lost Souls who resisted and endured the impact of slavery.

 

The Lost Souls Public Memorial Project has funded ongoing historical research across various New Jersey counties to identify and connect the Lost Souls to their New Jersey communities.Tracing the Lost Souls through the largest slave port in the United States, New Orleans, Louisiana, LSP fostered a partnership with Louisiana State University’s History department,demonstrating our continued commitment to exploring the communities the Lost Souls created and sustained in the Deep South.

Lost Souls hosts and participates in a range of educational and public programs, including in the last year, contributing to the Emmy-nominated documentary “The Price of Silence: The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People”; the New Jersey State Library, among others; teacher training with future New Jersey educators with William Paterson University and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; and internship program for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at colleges and universities.

 

A Living Memorial

 

The proposed design for the LSP Memorial is a healing garden featuring what Black farmer, educator, and activist Leah Penniman refers to as ‘the plants of Black freedom.’ Enslaved Black women and men used the powers of plants to survive, sustain, and nurture themselves and their loved ones, as well as resist the oppressive and dangerous, thus enduring the dehumanizing realities of slavery.

Symbolically, the healing garden will honor the connection of the Lost Souls to their African heritage and their home communities in the Garden State before they were uprooted and transplanted into perpetual servitude in the harsh southern climate. Forced into the surreal conditions of their new reality, they undoubtedly relied on nature to survive.

The Van Wickle Slave Ring

Abusing his legal authority and using his home in what is now East Brunswick, Middlesex County Court of Pleas Judge, Jacob Van Wickle, conspired with a vast network of powerful people who made up devious slave ring. Using a loophole in the law, Van Wickle oversaw the “abominable business” of kidnapping free and enslaved Blacks, selling them into the Deep South and permanent slavery. This slave ring operated from February until October of 1818.

Historical records reveal his home was used to hold people captive until they were sent on three ships, sailing out of Perth Amboy, down to New Orleans, where these human beings were sold further, or delivered to the plantation of his son-in-law, Charles Morgan.

The Victims

Centering the Lost Souls, the memorial will be informative, respectful, and engaging. We intend for it to convey an artful sense of remembrance and function as a source of community-building. We intend for it to include information about the history of the slave ring and how it was shut down.

Men and women of all ages, as well as children as young as just a few days old, are included among the Lost Souls. It is our intention and our obligation to make every effort to honor their humanity as individuals with stories and realities, helping all to remember them fully.

  • Peter, 15
  • Simon, age unknown (a free person)
  • Margaret Coven, age unknown (a free person)
  • Sarah, 21
  • Dianna, 7 months
  • Rachel, 22
  • Regina, 6 weeks
  • Hager, 29
  • Roda, 14
  • Mary, 2
  • Augustus, 4
  • Florah, 23
  • Susan, 7 months
  • Harry, 14
  • James, 21
  • Elmirah, 14
  • George, 16
  • Susan Watt, 35
  • Moses, 16
  • Lydia, 18
  • Betty, 22
  • Patty, 22
  • Bass, 19
  • Christeen, 27
  • Diannah, 9
  • Dorcas, 1
  • Claresse, 22
  • Hercules, 2
  • Lidia 22
  • Harriett Jane, 3
  • Bob
  • Rosanna
  • Claus
  • Ann
  • Rosino, child
  • Jenette
  • Charles, child
  • Elias, child
  • Robert, child
  • Leta, 21
  • Dorcus, 16
  • Sam Johnson, 32
  • Margaret, 21
  • Jane, 25
  • John, 4
  • Mary Davis, 23
  • Phyllis, 25
  • Charles, 1
  • Jack, 16
  • Harvey, 22
  • Elizer, 19 (female)
  • Frank, 21
  • Hester, 18
  • Peter, 21
  • Susan Silvey, 30
  • Jacob, 18 months
  • Betsey, 22
  • Jonas, 16 (a free person)
  • Sam, 16
  • William, 22
  • Henry, 21
  • Amey, 22
  • Juda, 26 (female)
  • Samuel, 2
  • James, 22
  • Sam, 32
  • George Bryan, 18
  • Hannah, 16
  • Nancy, 22
  • Joseph, 2 days
  • Peter, 17 (a free person)
  • Hannah, 14
  • Jack Danielly, 21
  • Jude (no judicial certificate)
  • Caroline, 18
  • Ann, 18
  • Jeanette, 12
  • Mose
  • George, 35
  • Cain, 22
  • Frank, 21
  • Lewis, 22
  • Elijah, 31
  • Mary, 27
  • Law, 21
  • Phebe, 21 (a free person)
  • Susan, 23
  • Charles, 43
  • Pettes, 14
  • Jane, 23
  • William M Clare, m, 25, 5’ 8”, light negro
  • John C Marsh (?), New York,
  • John C Marsh, on board
  • Jafe Manning, m, 21, 5‘ 5¾“, black, same
  • Robert Cook, m, 17, 4’ 9½”, light, same
  • Ben Morris, m, 22, 5’ 1”, black, same
  • Sam Prince, m, 19, 5’ 10”, light, same
  • Sam Peter, m, 30, 5’ 4”, black, same
  • George Phillips, m, 18, 5’ 3”, black, same
  • James Thompson, m, 5’ 5¼”, light, same
  • Edward Gilbert, m, 22, 5’ 3½”, blk, same
  • Dan Francis, m, 20, 5’ 1”, light, same
  • James, m, 15, 4’ 11”, black, same
  • Charles, m, 19, 5’ 2¾”, black, same
  • Susan Wilcox, f, 36, 5’ 2”, light
  • Nelly, f, 18, 5’ ¼”, black, same
  • Betsey Lewis, f, 28, 5’ 1”, black
  • Jane Clarkson, f, 23, 5’ 5”, black, same
  • Eliza Thompson, f, 21, 5’ 1¾”, light, same
  • Jane Cook, f, 15, 5’ ¾”, light, same
  • Ann Moore, f, 29, 4’ 9½”, black, same
  • Julian Jackson, f, 21, 5’ ¼”, dark, same
  • Jane Smith, f, 33, 4’ 10 3/4”, light, same
  • Peggy Boss, f, 21, 5’ 3”, dark, same
  • Mary Harris, f, 21, 4’ 10½”, light, same
  • Sally Cross, f, 20, 5’ 1”, blk, same
  • Rosanna Cooper, f, 22, 5’ 3”, blk, same
  • Mary Simmons, f, 18, 4’ 11”, dark
  • Hannah Jackson, f, 18, 5’ 1¼”, dark
  • Hanna Crigier, f, 18, 4’ 10¼”, black
  • Harriet Silas, f, 15, 4’ 11”, light
  • Fanny Thompson, f, 14, 4’ 7”, dark
  • Elizabeth Ann Turner, f, 16, 4’ 8”, black
  • Susan Jackson, f, 20, 4’ 8”, black
  • Hanna Johnson, f, 20, 4’ 9”, black
  • Hannah, f, 18, 4’ 9¼”, dark
  • Cane, m, 22, 5’ ½”, dark
  • William Stone, New York, consigned to John C. Marsh, on board
  • Jack, m, 22, 5’ 6”, dark, same
  • Lewis, m, 22, 5’ 8”, black, same
  • Peter, m, 14, 4’ 6¾”, black, same
  • Frank, m, 21, 5’ 2”, dark
  • Caleb Groves, m, 50, 5’ 2½”, dark
  • John, m, 21, 5’ 3”, black
  • Collins, m, 35, 5’ 3”, black
  • Othello, m, 16, 4’ 10”, light
  • Anthony Fortune, m, 21, 5’ 2¼”, dark
  • Joseph Henricks, m, 19, 5’ 5”, dark
  • Jane, f, 23, 5’ 5¼”, light
  • Susan, f, 21, 4’ 10 ½”, light
  • Lena, f, 38, 5’ 2”, dark

Timeline Of Events

July 4, 1804

Gradual Emancipation Act of 1804

The Gradual Emancipation Act of 1804 freed children born slaves, if born after July 3 of that year. However, the children remained servants to their parents’ master until the age of emancipation which was 21 years for women and 25 years for men.

February 1, 1812

NJ Supplement to 1804 Act

In 1812, NJ supplemented the 1804 act. It reiterated that the enslaved must consent to emigration and be examined by two impartial local officials to affirm consent.

March 1818

First Group is Sent South

1st group departed from Sandy Hook on March 10, 1818 on the brig Mary Ann, and arrived in New Orleans on May 22, 1818.

May 1818

Second Group is Sent South

2nd group departed on May 25th for New Orleans on the sloop Thorn.

July 1818

Third Group is Sent South

3rd group departed in late July of 1818 on the Bliss.

October 1818

Fourth Group is Sent South

4th group departed from Perth Amboy on the Schoharie, October 26, 1818.

November 5, 1818

NJ Petitions

Citizens of Middlesex county successfully petitioned the New Jersey state legislature to bring an end to exportation of people out of the state and enforce penalties by fine or imprisonment against individuals engaged in selling, transferring or assigning slaves or servants.

November 7, 1818

Fifth Group is Sent South

5th group transported by land through Philadelphia to destination unknown.

Join Our Mailing List