CV Black History Makers: Barzillai Lew.

 
Barzillai Lew, a distinguished American Revolutionary War Hero, was a free born black man from Groton, MA born in 1743 to a “mulatto” slave owned by Capt. Samuel Scripture, named Margaret Lew, native of Cabo Verde.
 
Margaret married Primus in 1742 and had two sons and two daughters, Barzillai being the oldest.
 
Barzillai was an accomplished musician and served as a musician in the French and Spanish wars. Years later he was called to serve as a fifer, drummer and soldier in Capt John Ford’s Chelmsford Militia in the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775!
 
He then joined Capt. Joseph Bradley Varnum’s Dracut Militia that was ordered to the “Tyconderoga” in 1777 where Varnum wrote in his diary, “ ‘Zeal is a fifer and fiddler for the grand appearance the day that Burgoyne’s Famous Army is brought in”.
 
This battle was captured in a portrait that sits today in the US State Department Public Room… Yes, a black man of Cape Verdean descent is memorialized in a portrait in the Capital of the United States!!!
 
Not only that…. Duke Ellington dedicated a composition to him called “Barzillai Lew”.
 
Barzillai went on to marrry Dinah Lew and had 5 children whose descendants still live in Massachusetts!
 
If ya didn’t know… Now you know!!!
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Author: The Creola Genealogist

My name is Anna Lima and I was born and raised in Massachusetts. I have an obsession for all things Cabo Verde, genealogy and history. I was fortunate to have known my great-grandmother, Maria Coelho Rodrigues, who inspired my love and interest in my family history. I hope to share and inspire others to discover their own family histories.

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