Documents in the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at Elting Memorial Library reveal the name of an enslaved boy named James, who was purchased in 1789 by Jonathan Deyo from Henry Eltinge, a merchant in Kingston, and Dirck Wynkoop, a farmer in New Paltz. Jonathan Deyo, also a farmer, had built a wood-frame home on the road to Libertyville and grew various grains and corn on the fertile flats there. He may also have raised sheep, based on a number of receipts that show him paying for “wool carding.”

The document recording the purchase of James reads in part:

     […] in consideration of the sum
     of Ninety pounds To Us in hand paid at and Be fore
     The Sealing and Delivery of this presents, By Jonnathin–
     Doyo of New paltz in the County and State Aforesaid
     The Receipt whair of I do Herby Acknowlage have
     Bargained and Sold And by thier presents Do Bargain
     and Sell unto the Said Jonnathin Doyo A Negro Boy
     Named James Aged About fifteen years to have
     And to hold the said Negro James […]

Ninety pounds equals about 11,642 British pounds sterling today, or the equivalent of 14,297 U.S. dollars.

James’s name appears again on a bearer note given to Jonathan in 1791 by Daniel Van Wagenen for rye, corn, and flax “soding” (sod or perhaps seeds). This seemingly ordinary piece of paper is rather remarkable in what it reveals: Daniel specifically requests “that corn of your negro James.” From this we learn that James, while enslaved, was credited as a skilled farmer whose corn was sought in particular. 

A year earlier, Jonathan Deyo was listed in the 1790 census as enslaving two people, presumably James and another. The gender of the second person is unknown, but since it was common for white men to provide an enslaved female to assist their wives in domestic operations of the household (including preparing food, cooking, mending clothes, and minding children), the second enslaved person might have been a woman.

- Josephine Bloodgood, HHS Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs, adapted from the online exhibit, Jane Deyo Wynkoop (May 2020).