Hidden History: Fortune

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Lessons from the grave. A man’s life–and death–is providing a very personal look at life as a slave in America.

In Waterbury, Connecticut – a peculiar headstone. It took 215 years for a proper burial of the man named Fortune.  In the two centuries, his bones have been on an unbelievable journey 

“Mr. Fortune, the skeleton that we were looking at, was owned by this surgeon in Waterbury – he was probably working on his land.”

Fortune was owned as a slave. 

“I think a lot of people don’t realize how prevalent – slavery was in the northeast.”

Researchers and students from Quinnipiac University were able to study the skeleton of Fortune.. 

“He was extremely robust.”

And gain “rare” insight into what life was like as a New England slave, from lifestyle to diet.

“This feathering along the edge of the skull could be due to nutritional deficiencies.”

Disrespect in life and death. The man who owned Fortune as a physician.

“The bones were passed down from generation to generation.” 

The family used his skeleton to study osteology.

“It is a strange juxtaposition to know the very reason he was used by the bone surgeon is also what ended up giving us evidence of what his life was like.”

After two centuries, a ceremony was held at the state capital.

“That’s why we participated in the process of the burial funeral.”

And Fortunes bones were put into a coffin. And through it all, a journey forcing us all to look at a disturbing past.

“Knowing your history means that you can change your future.”

Hidden History, a celebration of black history, was sponsored by Missouri Southern State University.

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