In the summer of 1781 the Fortunes arrived
in Jaffrey, New Hampshire.
Soon after their arrival, in an incident related in every account
of Amos Fortune, they were "warned out" by Jaffrey
town constable Joseph Thorndike. This incident is sometimes interpreted
to mean that Jaffrey residents did not want a black family in
town, an assumption that is entirely erroneous. The facts are
quite different. Far from being discriminatory, the "warning
out" was standard procedure.
New Hampshire towns were then, as now, required
by law to support needy families. To spare the town taxpayers
from having to support such people, the town selectmen directed
constables to "warn out" new arrivals, telling them
to depart the town forthwith and warning them that, if they stayed,
the town would refuse to be held liable if they became destitute.
One way or another, Amos Fortune did not heed Constable Thorndike's
warning and became a hard working, respected citizen of Jaffrey.
After living on some town-owned land for eight years, Fortune
bought his own land. On April 25, 1789 he bought 25 acres of
land along the road to Sharon (now Amos Fortune Road) for £45.
He dug his tanning pits here, and built a
small house and a barn. Both the house and barn are still
standing, and a sign marks them as the Fortune Homestead.
Amos Fortune was acknowledged as one of the finest tanners in
the area, and indeed in New England. Former clients from Woburn
and other towns in eastern Massachusetts sent their hides to
Amos Fortune was one of the more prominent and prosperous citizens
of the young town of Jaffrey. He was a full member of the church
and attended the religious services every Sunday in the Meetinghouse
led by Reverend
Ainsworth. Church membership was very important in those
days. Though most townspeople attended the services, only a handful
were full church members because rules governing membership were
very strict. Amos Fortune had become a member of the church in
Woburn, and upon presenting the necessary documents he was accepted
into the Jaffrey church.
By all accounts, and judging by the inventory of his estate,
Amos Fortune was a particularly well-dressed man. He owned silver
shoe buckles and several coats, including a fur coat for winter.
After 1799 he may have gone to the Sunday church meeting wearing
the blue coat and fur hat he took as collateral from Samuel George
in Keene. He owned a silver
watch which sold for a large sum at auction following his death.
Amos Fortune was instrumental in founding Jaffrey's first library,
and allegedly bound several of the Library's books.
On November 17, 1801, Amos Fortune died at age 91. He was buried
behind the Meetinghouse in the Old Burying Ground. Less than
a year after Amos Fortune's death, Violate also died and was
buried next to him in the cemetery. Today
visitors of all ages come to read the inscriptions, said to have
been written by Reverend Ainsworth himself.