On Friday, May 31, at 10:00 a.m., an installation ceremony will be held to mark the placement of 10 Witness Stones at the Lyme Public Library.  The historical plaques commemorate the lives of 10 enslaved African Americans who labored in the Town of Lyme – Dina, Jenny, Pompey, Peter, Bristo, Suberiah, Boston, Cuff Condol, Prince Brown and Pomp Henry. Each stone includes the enslaved individual’s name, along with details about their lives and circumstances compiled from land records, emancipation certificates and other available historical documents.

The installation ceremony will take place on the lawn of the Old Lyme Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library in Old Lyme, with a program that offers music, poetry and speeches from community partners to honor the lives of those enslaved:

  • Speakers include Rhonda Ward, the Witness Stones Old Lyme Partnership poet and first New London Poet Laureate; Martha Shoemaker, the First Selectwoman of Old Lyme; and Melissa Fournier, director of the Lyme Public Library.
  • Soloist Nikita Waller and saxaphonist Rick Wyman will provide music, along with the Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School chorus under the direction of Laura Ventres perform. 
  • Lyme-Old Lyme Middle School poets will read biographical poems they wrote for the individuals remembered by the Witness Stones.

The ceremony marks the fourth installation of Witness Stones in the Lyme-Old Lyme area by the Old Lyme Witness Stones Partnership since 2021 and brings the total number of stones to 48. The partnership’s goal is to expand the understanding of local history and honor the humanity and the contributions of people who were formerly enslaved in the Lyme-Old Lyme community.

The partnership’s founding members include the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library, the Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools and the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Community partners include the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center, St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau and the Old Lyme Historical Society.