Enslaved Forebears Honored at Ceremony

Peg Lyon was enslaved in Rye, sold in Greenwich in 1790, and emancipated in 1800, when she was able to live free with her husband Anthony Green. She died 30 years later.

Published May 23, 2024 9:44 PM
2 min read

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Peg Lyon was enslaved in Rye, sold in Greenwich in 1790, and emancipated in 1800, when she was able to live free with her husband Anthony Green. She died 30 years later.

On May 17, Rye Historical Society and the School of the Holy Child came together for the second annual Witness Stones Memorialization and Public Ceremony, this year honoring Lyon with the installation of a memorial stone.

Genealogist Teresa Vega, whose fourth great-grandmother was Lyon, shared the journey of discovering her ancestry.

“As descendants, we carry forward the legacy of perseverance,” she said, recounting the challenges she and her cousin Andrea faced in uncovering their family history.

In spite of gaps in historical records and the heartbreaking reality of “paper genocide,” where ancestors’ histories were erased from official documents, they turned to genetic genealogy in 2013, which Vega described as “transformative.”

By 2016, they felt a strong connection to Lyon and Green.

“Peg and Anthony have been guiding forces in our research. This has never been about just us. It’s always been about Peg and Anthony,” she said.

The event, held at the historic Knapp House, was dedicated to honoring the memory of those enslaved in Rye. Their lives often forgotten, the ceremony offered a moving tribute to the resilience and enduring legacy of those historic figures.

Colleen R. Pettus, Head of School at Holy Child, thanked Kathleen Glatthaar Lozano, a seventh-grade teacher at Holy Child, who helped organize the event.

Anne Gold, Executive Director of the Rye Historical Society, said, “Together we are here to pay tribute to Peg Lyon, a figure of great significance. Through her words, we are going to gain great insights,” she said as she introduced Vega.

Dennis Culliton, founder of the Witness Stones Project, reflected on the educational impact of the project on the Rye community and students.

“What we found is a way to engage students in primary documents,” Culliton said, sharing that he only learned of Lyon through working with Vega this year. “I realized how her important story is being left unsaid.”

New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblyman Steve Otis, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, and Mayor Josh Cohn all attended the ceremony and offered comments.

The ceremony also showcased the reflections of students from Lozano’s seventh-grade class. Student Amelia Ortiz said, “I can’t imagine how cruel someone had to have been to treat someone this way. It’s such a peaceful area it’s hard to imagine such cruelty existing.”

Other students like Sophia Cantwell and Kathryn Harrington shared original poems titled “Invisible” and “What Life Would Be Like,” respectively, capturing the pain and dehumanization experienced by those enslaved.

The event concluded with a prayer and blessing by Fr. Tim Wiggins.

“Young ladies, you will make a difference with the fine education your parents are giving you,” Wiggins said.

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