Past Meeting

This Society meeting was held at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday February 18, 2024
at, and co-sponsored by, Tredffrin Public Libary in Strafford, Pa.

From West Africa to the Great Valley
The Story of Curry Ganges (1785-1858)
Featuring a Series of Unlikely Events from the Early Republic

presented by Michael Kearney, Ph.D.

"Capture of the Slave Ship" by Scottish artist Joseph Noel Paton (1821-1901).
While not contemporaneous with the USS Ganges' interdiction of the Prudent and Phoebe in 1800, the image captures the drama and poignancy of that moment when enslaved Africans, terrorized and suffering, are offered the rescuing hands of white mariners.

On October 21, 1858, Curry Ganges, an African American and forty-year resident of Tredyffrin, was laid to rest in the Valley Friends Meeting burial ground. Stephen Stephens, quoted in his wife's diary described the ceremonies as "quite a large funeral for a colored man." This offhanded compliment — and it was a compliment — was well earned. Curry had deep ties to the community, but his life story doesn't begin in Tredyffrin. Remarkably, rather, it begins with his birth in West Africa around 1785.

This talk tells the story of how the African Curry Ganges witnessed a rare success of the new republic's efforts to curb the foreign slave trade, came by his unusual surname and began a new life in Pennsylvania. This story spans the Atlantic world from London to Newport and Charleston to Sierra Leone, Havana and Philadelphia. It exhibits, yet again, how the lives of our African American brethren form an important part of our nation's history, if only we would look.

Michael Kearney, PhD, has been a genealogist and family historian for more than 30 years. His work has been published in the NEHG Register, the NYGB Record and the Connecticut Nutmegger. His most recent work has been "The Ganges Family History Project — Constructing the histories of 135 enslaved Africans rescued by the sloop-of-war USS Ganges in 1800," found online at


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