Finding the Battistes

1856 Centralcollegecatalog.pdf

Finding the Battistes in the historical record was not easy.

Central College records identified their hometown as New York City, and the census in the 1850s gave their birthplace as New York. Searches of newspaper databases kept returning a Charles A. Battiste from Boston in the 1840s, but the connection of the Boston Battiste and the younger Central College students was not clear at all. They seemed to be from New York and not from Boston. 

Searches of genealogical databases revealed two other possibilities. There was a Charles A. Battiste living in Philadelphia's prosperous African-American catering community. Alternatively, immigration records showed a Charles and Josephine Battiste arriving from France in 1844 with their mother and other siblings.

Eventually, records of the New York Colored Orphan Asylum digitized by the New York Historical Society provided a crucial clue that linked the students to the Boston Battistes.[1]

1. John Doe, Free Communities of New York (New York: Holton Press, 1975), 36.

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