River, Land, and Sea: Wethersfield’s Maritime History Supplemental Programming

Currently on view in the Wethersfield Museum’s Watson Gallery, River, Land, and Sea: Wethersfield’s Maritime History lends itself to a wide variety of complementary programming, both historical and cultural. Throughout 2022, Wethersfield Historical Society is presenting a series of lectures and concerts designed to give attendees a more complete understanding of the crucial role Wethersfield’s maritime trade played in the town’s development and a better appreciation of the culture of the times.

Programs are scheduled to take place on select Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm. All lectures and concerts will be given in the Keeney Memorial Cultural Center, 200 Main Street, Wethersfield, CT. Admission is $10.00 for the General Public and free for WHS members. Ample free parking is available in the lot behind the Keeney Center. This programming has been made possible in part by grants from CT Humanities and the Robert Alan Keeney Memorial Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.



February 8, 7:00 pm
“Not Being Contented Ashore”: Black Mariners of Connecticut

Wethersfield Historical Society is delighted to welcome Dr. Akeia de Barros Gomes, Senior Curator of Social Maritime Histories at Mystic Seaport Museum to the River, Land, and Sea: Wethersfield’s Maritime History series. Dr. de Barros Gomes’ talk will concentrate on the unique experiences of the large number of Black men – both enslaved and free – who were employed at sea throughout the eighteenth century in Connecticut. She describes the climate in the following words. “Maritime work provided a space of integration, an arena of relative freedom, and was largely merit based. By exploring the historical contexts that Black seafarers navigated and individual stories of Black mariners from Connecticut, we can explore Black maritime culture and communities. We can also begin to understand how these men, their families, their communities and their legacies became, as James Rose asserts ‘an integral part of the historical tapestry of the state of Connecticut.’”

Due to the ongoing pandemic, masking will be required indoors and social distancing will be observed in seating.


February 22, 7:00 pm Amistad; Journey to Freedom.

Wethersfield Historical Society presents Chris Menapace, Senior Educator at Discovering Amistad. His talk, Amistad; Journey to Freedom, will cover the story of the Amistad rebellion from its beginnings in Sierra Leone with the kidnapping of Mendi Africans. He will discuss the Mendi’s experiences on the Tecora as they endured the middle passage, their rebellion on board the Amistad ship, their journey to Connecticut, and the subsequent trials in Connecticut and the Supreme Court. Menapace’s  presentation will focus on the themes of dehumanization, resistance, and legacy and how this story still impacts us today.



March 22, 7:00 pm Concert: The Jolly Beggars

March 29, 7:00 pm “Indigenous Whalers”

Jonathan James-Perry, Aquinnah Wampanoag Artist, Educator, and Performer

April 26, 7:00 pm “Justus Riley”

Sandra Ulbrich, Independent Researcher

June 7, 7:00 pm “The China Trade”

Karina Corrigan, Associate Director Peabody Essex Museum

Past Programs:

January 11, 7:00 pm “The River, The Sound, and The Sea”

Wethersfield Historical Society Research Librarian Martha Smart opens the series with “The River, The Sound, and The Sea”. Ms. Smart will speak on early Wethersfield’s role in the competition for the trade of Long Island Sound among Europeans and Native Americans; the West Indies trade and its basis in slavery; and the evolution of trade into the 19th Century.



January 18, 7:00 pm “Maritime Rocky Hill”

Wethersfield Historical Society presents Rocky Hill Town Historian Robert C. Herron speaking on “Maritime Rocky Hill” in the second  installment of this series of lectures and concerts. Mr. Herron will speak about Rocky Hill’s maritime history, from its beginnings as a section of Wethersfield through its incorporation as a town in its own right in 1843 to the present day. The event will take place in the Keeney Ballroom. This event is also free for current members of Rocky Hill Historical Society