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Archeological dig in suburban Rye revealing clues about one of Westchester County’s first Black entrepreneurs

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RYE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There have been some tantalizing finds at an archeological dig in Westchester County.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Wednesday, historians are finally piecing together the story of one of the county’s first Black entrepreneurs, 150 years after he died.

Volunteers are on site in suburban Rye, sifting through the past to find pieces of ceramic, glass and metal that help tell the story of the Voris family and fill in the blanks about a 19th century businessman.

“And it shouldn’t be blank. It should be well known and celebrated by all,” historian Douglas Carey said.

Carey is leading the work at the site, which is adjacent to the historic Rye Meeting House. A map from 1872 shows two properties owned by William Voris. That’s the same year Voris died. Aiello visited his grave with writer and researcher Howard Husock, who found evidence Voris may have been born enslaved in New Jersey.

“At a time when there were so many racial barriers in life, he was able to come here to New York and not only be free but to prosper,” Husock said.

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The team has found evidence of Voris’ work as a tavern owner and innkeeper.

The 1870 census shows Voris was wealthier than many of his white neighbors.

Kellie Papale, a student studying historic preservation student, said a particular piece of glass is her favorite find so far.

“Beautiful, tinted purple, and it had ‘Brewing Co’ on it,” Papale said.

NAACP leader Ingraham Taylor said the relics, which are likely linked to the Voris family, evoke a sense of wonder.

“My spirit is filled to be standing on the grounds of someone such as him that lived here, and I want to learn more,” Taylor said.

The dig may have uncovered the northwest corner of the Voris home, and there’s more to explore, to learn, to preserve, and to honor.

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The archeology team plans additional work at the site, which is owned by the city of Rye and cared for by a historic conservancy group.

Source: CBS

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