Funeral planned for slave that Quinnipiac professors, students helped examine

Quinnipiac faculty, staff, and students used diagnostic imaging techniques in March to learn more about Fortune, the slave of a Waterbury physician, who died in the 1790s and whose remains the doctor made into a skeleton.

Quinnipiac faculty, staff, and students used diagnostic imaging techniques in March to learn more about Fortune, the slave of a Waterbury physician, who died in the 1790s and whose remains the doctor made into a skeleton.

A slave who was abused during his lifetime and even after he died will be honored at an elaborate funeral, the Associated Press reports.

The man, who was known as Fortune and died near the Naugatuck River in 1798, will lie in state in the Connecticut State Capitol rotunda in Hartford on Thursday, Sept. 12 before receiving a state police escort to Waterbury for a memorial service at the church where he was baptized. He will then be buried.

Tests performed by Quinnipiac University faculty and students indicated that Fortune lived a physically painful life.

“We are performing a comprehensive x-ray and anthropological study of Fortune’s skeleton,” Gerald Conlogue, co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute and professor of diagnostic imaging said at the time. “It’s important that we get as much documentation as possible.”

Fortune, his wife, Dinah, and their three children were the legal property of Dr. Preserved Porter, a Waterbury physician. Fortune also had an older son, Africa, whose mother was not known. Fortune and his family lived on Porter’s farm, east of the center of Waterbury. It’s believed that while Porter tended to his medical practice, Fortune may have worked on the doctor’s farm, which produced rye, Indian corn, onions, potatoes, apples, beef, hogs, cider, hay, oats and buckwheat. Dinah is believed to have worked in the Porter’s home, cooking and cleaning. It’s believed that Fortune and his family were hired out on occasion to work in other families’ homes. Fortune was in his mid to late 40s when he died. It’s believed that his children were sold off shortly after his death. By 1800, only Dinah remained in the Porter household.

“If you look his bones, you can tell he did not have an easy life,” Conlogue said. “Inside his bones is the story of his life. We are going to get him to tell us his story from the x-rays.”

Conlogue and his colleagues, Natalie Pelletier, clinical assistant professor of diagnostic imaging, and Robert Lombardo, an adjunct professor of diagnostic imaging, worked with Jaime Ullinger, an assistant professor of anthropology and co-director of the Bioanthropology Research Institute, and Richard Gonzalez, a forensic anthropologist and assistant professor of medical sciences in the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac, examined Fortune’s skeleton.

Julianna Lupo ’14 and Milad Ziyadeh ’14 spent part of their spring break assisting with the scans. “The fact that I am able to be part of this project is awesome,” Ziyadeh said in between scans. “It’s a great review of what we have learned.”

The students used the unique experience to prepare for the May x-ray certification exams.

“It inspires you to do more,” Lupo said. “It gives you greater respect for what we are studying and for history in general.”

Ullinger performed a bioanthropological analysis. In addition, she used a 3D scanning camera that produced data that can be used for a facial reconstruction. Gonzalez performed a forensic anthropological analysis to confirm that the skeleton in fact represent the remains of Fortune and to determine a possible cause and manner of death.

“They will produce a record that will last forever,” Conlogue said. “This is an interdisciplinary educational project that will prove to be very beneficial.”

In addition to the 3D scanning, the researchers used a 3D printer that makes replicas of the bones, demonstrating pathology.  Additional medical technology enabled them to reconstruct Fortune’s face.

“I think the facial reconstruction will be wonderful,” Conlogue said. “People can really identify with something you can put a face to.”

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Categories: College of Arts and Sciences, Frank H Netter MD School of Medicine, News, School of Health Sciences

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