Beman Triangle Exhibit at the Middlesex County Historical Society

The exhibit at the Middlesex County Historical Society has been covered in the Hartford Courant, the Middletown Press, on the Middletown Eye blog, and the Wesleyan newsletter.

The public may view the exhibit beginning Saturday, April 6, through the end of May. Museum hours are Monday – Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the first Saturday of the month, 12 to 3 p.m.

Our exhibit will then be moving on to the Russell Library in the summer.

Right of Suffrage

Along with the abolitionist movement and fight for immediate emancipation, the Beman family members were also very keen on fighting for the right of suffrage for the African Americans. As a delegate to Colored Conventions, a democratic platform for the disenfranchised African American community to discuss issues related to people’s well-being, livelihood, politics and other interests, Jehiel effectively led debates in Middletown.

The Colored Conventions initially focused on the matter of slavery and moral reform. However, dissatisfied at the denial of their right of suffrage and by the fact that Connecticut remained the only state in New England to prohibit free blacks from voting, the delegates addressed a letter to the white “voters of the state of Connecticut.” They largely argued for right of suffrage for the African-American community based on the promised equality written in the The Declaration. They also asserted that human rights cannot be dictated by men or the government, for it is God who gives the natural rights.

Although the Colored Convention did not produce direct results while Jehiel’s office, the Convention strenuously appealed to the idea of suffrage and political voice. The African Americans in Connecticut gained voting rights in 1870.

For more information on the civil rights movement in Middletown, click here.

Week 2


Week 1

Unit 2/A (21 Vine): We lifted out the top soil, cleared some of the roots, and also got rid of the sand fill that served as a marker from the 2006 excavation of the site.

Unit 2/B (21 Vine): This was the first time that this specific unit was excavated. We had a hard clearing out the roots but by the end of Sunday, we got most of the roots cleared and got the unit ready for the second week.

Unit 4 (19 Vine): We lifted out the top soil, got rid of the sand fill and was able to find some significant artifacts on the first week; we found artifacts such as beads___. (need more info)

Contact Us

Beman Triangle Project is a Community and Public Archaeology Project. And we always want you to be part of it!

If you have any inquiries about the project or any interesting stories and accounts to tell us about, please contact:

To be added on to the listserv, please contact Prof. Sarah Croucher:

Project Timeline


Janice Cunningham and Elizabeth Warner publish their survey on the history of Middletown Experiment on Community: An African American Neighborhood, Middletown, Connecticut, 1847-1930.


Formerly called the Leverett Beman Historic District, this site was placed on the state register of historic places and received a new name: The Beman Triangle.

2005 Sept. 26-29th

Jarrod Burks of Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc., was contracted to conduct geo-survey of electrical resistivity and magnetometry in the backyards of 19 and 21 Vine St.

2006 March-early May

First excavation was conducted on the site of 19 and 21 Vine St.

2006 September

A completed report of geo-survey was submitted to the University by Jarrod Burks of Ohio Valley Archaeology, Inc.

2007 March-early May

Second excavation was conducted on the site of 19 and 21 Vine St.

2007 May

Publication of Jesse Nasta’s Thesis: ‘Their Own Guardians and Protectors’: African American Community in Middletown, Connecticut, 1822-1860

To read the full thesis click here.

2010 Oct. 23rd

Homecoming/Parents Weekend WESeminar on Beman Triangle, presented by Liz Warner, Rev. Harvill, Mardi Loman and Prof. Charles.

2012 Feb. 25th

Community Archaeology Symposium Digging Together Community Archaeology: Practice and Potential held in the old A.M.E. Zion Church on Cross  Street: the lectures were presented by Cheryl LaRoche (U of Maryland) “The Power of Community: Archaeology, the Black Church, and the Landscape,” Stephen Silliman (UMass Boston) “The Eastern Pequot Archaeological Field School: A Community Collaboration in Connecticut,” and Whitney Battle-Baptiste (UMass Amherst) “An Archeology for the Living: Bringing the Past into the Present Through Dialogue, Collaboration, and Real Exchange”

Fall 2011-Spring 2012

On-going community consultation with the A.M.E. Zion Church

2012 Apr. 14-15th, 28-29th

Third excavation was conducted on the site of 19 and 21 Vine St.

2012 May 24th

Reunion/Commencement WESeminar on Beman Triangle, presented by Liz Warner, Rev. Harvill, Mardi Loman, Jesse Nasta ’07, and Prof. Croucher

Summer and Fall 2012

Few of the summer goals for Beman Triangle Project is to organize a public display of excavation findings, analyze materials, and complete grant applications for further work

2013 June

A full summer field school session was conducted on site

2013 Sept. 14-15, 28-29

Middletown Materials class conducts excavations on site behind 19 and 21 Vine St.

2014 July

Field Methods in Archaeology conducts further excavations on Unit 3 and Unit 10.

2014 Sept. 14 and 17, Oct. 12, 20, and 21.

Middletown Materials class conducts excavation on Unit 11 and 12.

2014 December 13

Students in Middletown Materials class inaugurate Beman Triangle exhibit at AME Zion Church.


The Beman Triangle and its residents were a vital part of American history. Beman family members were political leaders in the abolitionist, suffrage, and temperance movements. Family members were clergymen and trustees of the A.M.E. Zion Church. The Bemans and other residents of the Triangle were responsible community leaders within the prospering African American community of Middletown throughout the  nineteenth century.

But why did they remain unstudied and forgotten?

Belonging to an all-too-often-forgotten part of history, the Beman Triangle Project was started in 2003 by the Wesleyan University’s Anthropology Department and Archaeology Program. Since then, the Beman Triangle Project has been developed into a collaborative project — a project that works in partnership with the local community. Through this collaboration the project aims to draw the local community into the research process and help each and every one of us better engage with and understand nineteenth-century African American history in New England.