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Graham Russell Hodges

Peter Williams Sr. was one of ten children born in New York City to George and Diana Williams, slaves of James Aymar, a prominent local tobacconist. Born in an annex to Aymar's cowshed, Williams often said, “ I was born in as humble a place as my Lord!” Encouraged by Aymar to attend services at the newly formed Wesley Chapel, later known as the John Street Methodist Church, Williams worshipped in the slave gallery. At the chapel he married Mary Durham, also known as Molly, who was an indentured servant for Aymar's wife and a legendary volunteer for Fire Company #11. She served hot coffee and sandwiches to the firemen and is shown in a famous painting pulling a fire truck through blinding snow.

During the American Revolution Aymar, a staunch Loyalist, fled to New Brunswick, New Jersey, taking with him his slaves and indentured servants. In 1780 shortly ...