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                                                                 EARLY LIFE AND ORAL HISTORY


Timothy Cesar/Caesar is estimated to have been born sometime in 1741-42 in what was at that time
still the colony of New York. According to oral history passed down by descendants on both the East
and West Coasts, his mother was said to have been Native American. However, I have found no record stating who his father was to date. After many unsuccessful attempts to find records to corroborate the family oral history about his Mother’s heritage, a record was found in the Archives of the Massachusetts Colony General Assembly containing an entry about a “Rachel Cesar” who was described as being “another Indian pauper”.


At that time she was was quite an elderly woman living in Dartmouth MA. Her name is also written in
the Grimes Family Bible at the very top of the page directly above those of Timothy Cesar and his wife. They were the parents of Clarissa Caesar, who eventually married William Grimes in New Haven in August 1817 per the book “The Life and Times of William Grimes,” who wrote the first fugitive slave
narrative in 1825, and is also buried along with his wife Clarissa in Grove Street Cemetery. Their
gravesite was inducted into the Connecticut Freedom Trail in Sept 2018, where both families from both coasts met for the first time!


My maternal family oral history also says that the Cesars were never enslaved and that we had Native
American heritage. My DNA test results also corroborates this oral history of Native American heritage.


However, my Cesar line does not descend directly from Clarissa’s children. My line descends from the Cesars who moved out to Litchfield County in the early 1800’s where they bought over 100 acres of property, and which later became a part of the Appalachian Trail known as “Caesar Brook Campsite”. They lived, married, raised children and died in that area until the early 1900’s. By the mid to late1930’s my Great Grandmother Nancy Cesar and Grandmother Matilda Cesar Williams moved back to New Haven after their husbands had both died. They are found in the 1930 Census living on Sherman Ave; and in the1940 Census they are living on Auburn St.


And where, thanks to my Mother and Father, I was born in 1948!


When General George Washington decided to allow blacks to enlist in the Continental Army in 1777,
after the British tried to entice them into joining with them (some to escape slavery), Timothy Cesar
along with many other black men who were eligible, enlisted in the 6th CT Regiment as a free black
man.


                                                            LIFE STATISTICS


Although records are very scarce for Timothy going back in time, here are a few found:


Born in New York (est) 1741-42.


Married wife Tryal/Trygal in 1772.


Joined the Continental Army in Haddam on June 1, 1777 for “the duration of the war”.


Transferred to the Invalid Corps in April 1782, and discharged from service in Jan 1783.


1799: Daughter Clarissa was born in in New Haven; Mother “Rachel” dies at the age of 100.


CT Census records show “Tim” (Cesar) and his family in the 1790 census for Woodbridge living as “free people of color”.


“Timothy and wife admitted to church in Woodbury Nov 6, 1814 from Church of Christ Woodbridge;
dism.& recom Apr8, 1932 by certificate to colored peoples in N. Haven”.


Church record extractions also show that a grandson and wife had a son, Minot b. in 1814; baptized in Jan 1815.


Most likely this was Temple Street Church founded in 1820 (present day Dixwell Ave United Church of
Christ where they have church records showing the attendance of Cesar/Caesar family members as far back as 1836).


Both a son, Minot, and an infant grandson, Timothy died in New Haven and were buried in “New Haven City Burial Ground” (now Grove Street Cemetery).


Note: there were at least two “Minot”s and two “Timothy”s that were named after their fathers and
grandfathers, making it difficult to keep track of who’s whom without referencing a timeline of their
birth and death dates.


The 1840 New Haven City Directory shows his descendant’s living at “130 George St”. Other family
members and descendants, including my maternal family line, were also found living and working
together in and around New Haven all the way into the 1950’s.


Timothy Cesar returned to New Haven at some time after the war where he died in 1822. Death
notices appeared in the following newspapers (per online newspaper databases and Hale Cemetery
Inscriptions records found at the Ct State Library and Archives):


Columbia Register April 6, 1822 Cesar, Timothy New Haven (Black) Rev. War Soldier 80.
Hale Inscriptions Index: Cesar, Timothy New Haven, Revolutionary Pensioner (Colored) Mar 27, 1822, age 80.

TIMOTHY CESAR

      by Katherine Overton