The Benjamin Barron House was built in 1716 in Concord, Mass.
Along with the property next door, this house is a rare survivor of a house/shop arrangement once prevalent along historic Lexington Road.
Barron was the owner of Concord’s best-known slave, John Jack, who bought his freedom as a shoemaker. The signage on the house reads:
“This house was built here by Benjamin Barron before the birth of this Nation on a parcel of land previously owned by William Baker. It was considered an old house as it stood a mute witness to the march of the British soldiers on that fateful day in 1775. Here the slave John Jack earned his freedom as a shoemaker. His epitaph in the Old Hill Burying Ground is world famous.”
Jack’s epitaph is quite poignant, and reads as follows:
God wills us free; man wills us slaves.
I will as God wills; God’s will be done.
Here lies the body of
a native of Africa who died
March 1773 aged about 60 years
Tho’ born in a land of slavery,
He was born free.
Tho’ he lived in a land of liberty,
He lived a slave.
Till by his honest, tho’ stolen labors,
He acquired the source of slavery,
Which gave him his freedom;
Tho’ not long before
Death, the grand tyrant
Gave him his final emancipation,
And set him on a footing with kings.
Tho’ a slave to vice,
He practised those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves.
Next time I’m in Concord I’m going to find this gravestone and add it to this post. I need to see it in person.
[…] on the Benjamin Barron house said Jack’s grave was in the Old Hill Burying Ground, and that its epitaph was […]
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Thank you for sharing Jack John’s epitaph. 01/22/2022
I was at an estate sale in Grants Pass Oregon at a mansion that reminded me of a plantation. In this beautiful home I found two kitchens.
The main kitchen was absolutely stunning, with a wall of glass cupboards showing the vintage glassware and china.
The second kitchen was for the staff. I was intrigued with this room wear I found and bought primitive handmade copper cooking utensils.
As I wander through the house, I came into the sewing room finding a plethora of hand sewn dolls. I bought all the black dolls, something in my soul made me.
I kept searching all the rooms for more treasures where I found Jack Johns Epitaph, crudely framed it is 29 x 39 ” and is beautiful.
I didnt know what I had found but this piece halted me and was drawn to read it. I stood there crying touched by the words and imagining his life. I went home without this treasure. That night I couldn’t sleep, I researched his life and that morning I high tailed it back to the estate sale not caring about the price, praying it hadn’t been sold! It was still there! I was so relieved, and it came home with me.
Thank you for sharing this story! I love it so much. I am so glad it was still there for you. ❤ We have gone to his grave a few times to leave flowers, and read the entire epitaph every time. It's a great idea to frame it — maybe I will do that with my photo. A reminder of where our country has been.
I lived in that house from 1975-77. Had a rubbing done on John Jack’s grave stone. He “visited” us often. When we fondly mentioned him by name, our lights would dim.
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That is the neatest story. 😍 I loved reading about John Jack. We have left flowers at his gravesite a few times. Super cool that you lived there! It’s a neat house.