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Peter and Phyllis Webb were both born enslaved sometime in the 1790s and brought to New York as children. Phyllis (her last name is unknown) was born in North Carolina. Peter Webb, who was born around 1792 in Virginia, was brought here when he was about 13 by slave merchant John James Speed, who settled in Caroline on Level Green Road. When he came of age, Peter made an arrangement with Speed to enable him to earn money to purchase his freedom for the price of $350.00 plus $34.00 in interest. Webb did lumbering work in Harford Mills and then worked as a hostler in Ithaca. In 1818, nine years before slavery ended in New York State, Peter Webb paid Speed the full $384.00 and became a free man. Phyllis would be freed in 1827, when the law abolishing slavery in New York State went into effect. Peter and Phyllis married in 1819 and had 11 children, only a few of whom survived to adulthood. 

In 1852, Frederick M. Webb, the second child of Peter and Phyllis, married Lucina Barton. They lived on a forty-acre farm in Caroline, but in 1870 they purchased 75 acres of the original thousand-acre Speed property, including the old homestead where Peter had lived and worked as a slave years before. 

Charles Bradford Bailor Jr., the grandson of Frederica and Bradford Bailor, now lives (as of 2013) with his wife Chauquita Jefferson Bailor in the mansion that was built for the Speed family. The Bailors avidly researched the history of their family, and they honor their ancestor in saying, “Although Peter Webb began life as a slave, he managed through his hard labor to have this land, and to us he is royalty.” 

Black and white image of Peter and Phyllis Webb

Peter & Phyllis Webb were born enslaved and brought to the Town of Caroline as children. They married in 1819. Peter purchased his freedom in 1818 for $350; Phyllis remained enslaved until New York abolished slavery in 1827. Their descendants still live in Tompkins County. 

DIGITIZED WRITTEN WORKS on the Webb Family from The History Center Archives

Explore the Webb-Bailor family story, and related archival items at The History Center in Tompkins County by clicking through the display to the right. 

Map of Speedsville, NY

Map of Speed(s)ville NY named for John James Speed who enslaved the Webbs. 1866. 

Black and white image of Mabel Webb Van Dyke

Mabel Webb Van Dyke was the youngest child of Frederick and Lucinda Barton Webb. She studied voice at the Ithaca Conservatory of Music, and later became a music teacher, mother of two, foster mother of 21, Sunday School Superintendent, quilter, and more.

Black and white image of Charles and Chauquita Bailor

Charles Bradford Bailor Jr. and Chauquita Jefferson Bailor direct descendants of Peter and Phylliss Webb. The Bailors live in the Bailor Family Homestead in Tompkins County which was originally built for John James Speed who enslaved their ancestors. 

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