Unearthed home remnants belonged to one of colonial New England's first Black property owners

King Pompey bought the home in 1762 in what is now Saugus

NBC Universal, Inc.

An incredible piece of history was recently discovered in the backyard of a Saugus, Massachusetts, resident, and the researchers who unearthed the finding are sharing its story just in time for the Juneteenth holiday.

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University teamed up and found the remnants of a home that once belonged to one of the first Black property owners in colonial New England.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

The man who once owned the home was Pompey Mansfield, but he was better known as King Pompey — an honor bestowed upon him by the Black community of that age.

The remnants of his home's foundation was found near the banks of the Saugus River.

"Everything lined up with the deeds, everything lined up with the description," professor of anthropology at UNH Meghan Howey said. "And that foundation was there. And I thought, there's more under that foundation."

Researchers at MIT unveiled two new planet discoveries in May, in conjunction with other institutions. But what's a "puffy Jupiter" anyways?  Follow NBC10 Boston on... Instagram: instagram.com/nbc10boston TikTok: tiktok.com/@nbc10boston Facebook: facebook.com/NBC10Boston X: twitter.com/NBC10Boston

The foundation painted a vibrant picture of who King Pompey was for both Howey and Kabria Baumgartner, professor of history and Africana studies at Northeastern.

"This was built with pebbles up and down the Saugus from the banks of the river, up a pretty steep cliff, one by one, bringing these rocks up or basket loads up," Howey said. "It really struck me as this was by somebody with such self-determination to have a home."

Baumgartner believes that Pompey was originally from West Africa, and was enslaved by a mill owner in Lynn. She said that it seems he was able to somehow self-emancipate, and then buy property in present-day Saugus in 1762.

What's left of his home is what this pair was able to dig up, after intense research to narrow in on a location.

"I don't know how much help he may have had, but it tells me something about him that he was determined," Baumgartner said. "And that's not something I can necessarily see in written records, but I can see it through archeology."

A Massachusetts engineer just got a major grant to develop the next generation of heart monitor — one that will give users a much broader picture of their cardiac health. Follow NBC10 Boston on... Instagram: instagram.com/nbc10boston TikTok: tiktok.com/@nbc10boston Facebook: facebook.com/NBC10Boston X: twitter.com/NBC10Boston

That home, and perhaps that determination, could have helped Pompey to become King Pompey, Baumgartner said.

She explained that in those days, the Black community would elect their own kings and queens on election days, which were special occasions marked with singing and dancing. Pompey was elected king annually in his area, and hosted the Black Election Day festivities at his home.

"It was this moment of collective joy, of collective happiness amid this sort of terrible oppression," Baumgartner said. "And I think that's also important to remember when we're thinking about, early black history, that it is tragic, it is sad there was suffering. But there are also these moments, fleeting moments of joy."

The research was funded by the New England Humanities Consortium and Northeastern. The goal is to work with the National Park Service to establish a historical marker, and do more outreach to spread knowledge about Black Election Day.

Contact Us