Birth: November 5, 1743 in Groton, MA

Death: January 18, 1822 in Dracut, MA

Historical Role/Pertinence: Organizer of Lew's Men

Barzillai Lew was born as a free Black man in Groton, Massachusetts to two former slaves. In 1760, Lew served as a fifer in Captain Thomas Farrington’s Company and was praised for his extraordinary musical talent. Lew also was a member of Captain John Ford’s company in Ticonderoga. It is known that Lew was an active member of multiple communities in Massachusetts. He lived in both Dracut and Lowell, Massachusetts during his adult life, eventually settling to raise his kids on the North side of the Merrimack River. Their farmhouse later became a stop on the Underground Railroad. Barzillai Lew formed a band with his children who shared his incredible musical abilities. They traveled across the East Coast performing, frequently performing in the Boston city. 

Associated Exhibits

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Works Cited

“Barzillai Lew.” Gateway to American Independence & Innovation. Freedom’s Way. Accessed November 2023. https://freedomsway.org/story/barzillai-lew/.

“Barzillai Lew.” National Park Service. Accessed November 2023. https://www.nps.gov/people/barzillai-lew.htm.