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Posts Tagged ‘Randall’s Ordinary Inn and Restaurant’

Randall's Ordinary, North Stonington

 Randall’s Ordinary has nothing “ ordinary” about its long and colorful history….from helping slaves find freedom to being  a restaurant, where waiters in traditional  period costumes, cooked over the huge open hearth. Presently the old house and buildings are  sitting  empty up the long winding  driveway, lined with old stone walls, off of Route 2 in North Stonington.  The Mashantuckets still own it as far as I know.

Randall-Brown Cemetery

 The house was built by my ancestor John Randall II in 1720 on land his family owned since 1680.  It stayed in the Randall family for about 200 years!  At first the house was in the town of Stonington, but in May of 1807, Stonington was divided into two parts and North Stonington was created.  The old Randall/ Brown Cemetery is on the left as you start up the hill.  The stones are broken and it has been vandalized!

Randall’s Ordinary has the distinction of being one of 16 stops of the Connecticut Freedom Trail.  In 1997, Randall’s Ordinary received this recognition from the Connecticut Historical Commission. Under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, anyone caught helping escaped slaves would be arrested. Therefore, it was hard for the commission to find written proof of many under-ground railroad stops.  They relied heavily on oral histories in documenting many of the stops, including Randall’s Ordinary.

 
My Oral History-In 1958, my grandmother, mother and I stopped at the Randall house.  My grandmother knocked on the door and explained to the occupant that her grandmother, Hannah Mary Randall, had been born in the house in 1816 and often told stories of the slave’s hiding place. The woman invited us into a room with an immense stone hearth. She rolled back the hooked rug to reveal a trap door. She lifted it up and we looked down into an exceptionally deep, dark hole. ( I have always regretted that I did not ask  my grandmother more questions about this.)
 

Costumed waitress showing the slave cellar

 

The runaways, supposedly hid by day in that dark, dreary hiding place.  At night, covered in darkness my great-great –great- grandfather or one of his fellow abolitionists, escorted the runaways north on their journey to freedom most likely continuing north to Norwich and Putnam,CT.  Next they would stop in Worcester, MA, then continue northward to Montreal, Canada and freedom!

Randall Grounds

A few years ago, I discovered two Emancipation Releases signed by William Randall in the Stonington Town Hall records.  

  • On March 24, 1808, William Randall “emancipated and made free a Negro man named Jabe Slave being 29 years of age well and healthy.”
  • On  March 11, 1807, William Randall freed   “Rose, a 26-year-old Negro slave, who was well and healthy.”

    CT Freedom Trail Recogniton

 

 

Hopefully the Randall house, with its unique history, will not be torn down!  Below is the sampler made by Hannah when she was 8 years old that my grandmother inherited and gave to me.

  I found more information on this site.

http://www.ctmuseumquest.com/?page_id=3982

 

1825 Sampler of Hannah Mary Randall

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