• Susan O'Connor

Flouting the Law: Massachusetts Residents Still Owned Slaves in 1850!

Updated: Jul 13



An Evening with

Nicka Sewell-Smith

Held in the Balance: The Trask 250

Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 7:00 PM EDT via Zoom

Please join us for this free event! Pre-registration is required. Click here to register.


In late 2014, Nicka Sewel-Smith uncovered one of the biggest finds of her genealogical career. Smith discovered ancestors that were enslaved by brothers Israel Elliot Trask, James Lawrence Trask, Augustus Trask, and/or William Porter Trask along with their niece Charlotte Pynchon Davis Ventress, nephew Augustus Trask Welch, and James Alexander Ventress. In the 1850s this Trask family ran a cotton empire in Mississippi and Louisiana valued at more than $4 million, while remaining residents of Massachusetts where slavery had been abolished in 1780.


Join us to learn how Nicka Sewell-Smith used DNA shared by more than 300 people descended from formerly enslaved ancestors and traditional family history research to unearth this discovery and how a multitude of documents detailing their lives have created a family history project documenting more than 5,000 people.


Nicka Sewell-Smith is a professional photographer, speaker, host, consultant, and documentarian with more than 20 years of experience as a genealogist. She has extensive experience in African-ancestored and reverse genealogy. She is an expert in genealogical research in the Northeastern Louisiana area and researching enslaved communities.


This presentation is free, but pre-registration is required. Click here for registration.


Co-sponsors: Co-sponsors: Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society - New England (AAHGS-NE), Essex Society of Genealogists (ESOG), Friends of Irish Research (FIR), Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston (JGSGB), Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG), New England Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG), Old Bones Genealogy of New England, Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society (WMGS).


Ms. Sewell-Smith provided the photograph of herself. The other images are provided under license from Creative Commons.





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