Back on Dec. 8, 1763, Windham’s Parson Peter Thatcher Smith performed a marriage ceremony that is included in the old records of New Marblehead, Mass. The groom was Lonnon Rhode and his bride was named Chloe. There is no record of her surname. The Rhode couple were the slaves of the second settler, William Mayberry. At that time, black slaves were considered property and owners were taxed, as records indicate.

When Mayberry died in 1765, and his considerable estate settled, Lonnon went to Mayberry’s son, Thomas, and Chloe went to another son, Richard.

Lonnon and Chloe Rhode had four children, all of whom were baptized and listed in the church book by Parson Smith. In an old report, historian Samuel Dole mentions that three of the children died young. There is no record of where Chloe and Lonnon Rhode lived (probably with their owners).

In 1777, Rhode enlisted in the Continental Army, received 26 pounds for his three years’ service, and within three days used 20 (British) pounds to buy his freedom from Thomas Mayberry’s widow.

Lonnon died in service after 10 months and 19 days during the Revolutionary War. His death came Dec. 9, 1777, at Valley Forge where his regiment had joined Washington’s army. He left a widow and at least one child, Lucy, age 5.

Old town records show that Lucy Rhode eventually ended up “on the town,” as it was said. Her care – or room and board – was taken up by different citizens at the annual town meeting. She was referred to as Black Luce or Luce. In 1817, Dr. James Merrill paid $36 to the town for her services for a year.

About this time, because of the number of paupers in town, the town purchased an old farm near the center of town and in 1820 built the Windham Town Farm, to be used for the poor. Here, Lucy Rhode went to live and here she died about 1837.

She was buried in the Brown Cemetery on Chute Road in an unmarked grave, in a section reserved for the poor. It is presumed that Lonnon Rhode was buried where he died on the battlefield. No records can be found for Chloe or the other three Rhode children.

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