COUNTY — While this region has a history of having a predominantly white population, there are recorded instances of black people living here and the support they were shown.

Pompey “Pomp” Russell, who began life as a slave, was later a resident of Weld in the early 1800s.

According to Wikipedia, Russell was purchased as a child by Thomas Russell of Andover, Massachusetts, in the early 1760s. The boy was a gift to console Thomas’ wife after the loss of their first child. Thomas had Pomp baptized in 1764. The family with Pomp moved to Wilton, New Hampshire, in 1769.

Pomp served at the Battle of Bunker Hill in June, 1775. Caught as a spy behind British lines, according to the Maine Historical and Geneological Recorder website he was sentenced to be shot. While preparations were being made, he was confined in a hollow square which he broke through and escaped to the woods. Pomp reached the American army, served until the end of the war.

About 1781 at age 21, Pomp was awarded his freedom by Thomas, his father and adoptive parent. He lived in New Hampshire for a time where he married and had two sons. While there he was a farmer and in 1804 was taxed for one ton of hay and three acres pastureland. Pomp was also a fiddler.

In 1805 Pomp moved his family to Weld where his adopted brothers and father were living. His brothers had built Pomp a home on Center Hill.


Abel and Joseph Russell, Pomp’s siblings were actively involved in the anti-slavery movement. They started two of the earliest known Anti-Slavery Societies around 1834, while Pomp was still alive.

Pomp was buried under a New Hampshire Revolutionary War stone in Weld, likely in 1838.

The societies begun by the Russells might have included people from Farmington.

According to the History, Art and Archives United States House of Representatives website on May 26, 1862, a petition created by the citizens of Farmington asked Congress to repeal the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The petition also sought to confiscate property of rebels against the government and declare their slaves forever free.

The petition was presented by Maine Congressman John Hovey Rice (originally from Mount Vernon) on June 19, 1862. A handwritten addition suggests that Congress could “so modify” the law “as to secure, to the alleged Fugitive, in all cases, a trial by jury.”

Rice had spoken at length on the House Floor on the issue a month before he presented the Farmington petition. His speech elaborated on the evils of slavery and insisted that “slavery being in itself wrong, can, as a system, only be secure in wrong government.”

According to the Library of Congress website, “the Fugitive Slave Law was a controversial law allowing slave-hunters to seize alleged fugitive slaves without due process of law and prohibited anyone from aiding escaped fugitives or obstructing their recovery. Because it was often presumed that a black person was a slave, the law threatened the safety of all blacks, slave and free, and forced many Northerners to become more defiant in their support of fugitives.”

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