By Robert D. Muirhead
Published: Saturday, February 7, 2009 2:14 AM EST
HEBRON — Residents and descendants of Lois and Cesar Peters — who were saved by local officials in 1787 from being sold back into slavery — told town officials Thursday that they want to see the couple’s house preserved as a historic site.
Members of the public were invited to voice their opinions on the future of the Peters House at a special public hearing Thursday.
Over 40 people — including direct descendants of Cesar and Lois Peters — arrived to plead with the town to place the home on the historic register and preserve it for the town and future generations.
“I think it would be just a shame not to put it on the historic register,” resident Ken Randall said.
Randall told the board that the town was blessed to have such a significant piece of history.
“Why not take advantage of what you’ve got?” he asked.
“We have a national treasure in our community,” Finance Board member Daniel Larson said.
Larson, along with many of the other speakers, urged the Board of Selectmen to nurture that treasure by placing the house on the historic register. He also wished to continue to honor the history of the town and the Peters family.
“We now have names and faces we could put to the treasure,” Larson said of Alethia Daughtrey and her family, who are direct descendants of the legendary Cesar and Peters.
Daughtrey is an author who is writing a book about the family’s history that began as part of a writing project.
“Learning about your history is very different from sitting in class,” Daughtrey said.
Her family’s first visit to Hebron — in a mass caravan of close to a dozen cars — was a moving look at her ancestors.
“I knew that it was part of our family,” Daughtrey said of the house. “Now there’s something that connects us to history.”
According to legend, in the fall of 1787, freed slaves Cesar and Lois were abducted by slave traders and taken to the ports at Norwich.
Before the slave traders could abscond with the couple, however, the town went to their rescue; the sheriff trumped up false charges on the two and “arrested” them, bringing them back to live out their days free in Hebron.
The town acquired the Peters House as part of a $1.25 million, 122-acre land purchase in September 2004. The Board of Selectmen is currently deciding what to do with the property.