Sabe and Rose
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  • Rose and Sabe Derby

    After the collapse of Sabe’s business partnership, Sabe must have had a hard time making ends meet. Records indicate that Elias Hasket Derby's children all contributed money from their portions of the Derby estate towards building a house for Sabe and Rose in 1807. It’s possible that Sabe and Rose worked for the Derbys in exchange for this house, though it’s not clear from the documents.

    However disappointing it may have been for Sabe to find himself indebted to the Derbys, records indicate that he and Rose became vibrant members of the free black community in Salem. Sabe served as the Secretary of the Sons of Africa Society, a charitable organization.

    When Rose Derby died in 1809, news of her death appeared in the Essex Register newspaper. The length of the obituary indicates that Rose Derby had some standing in the community. It reads, "The good qualities of this woman had earned her just esteem..." Still, more than 25 years after the end of slavery, Rose's obituary still remembers her via her connection to Elias Hasket Derby. She is described as "Rose, wife of Saib [sic] Derby, Free blacks, both formerly belonging to Elias Hasket Derby, Esq. an eminent merchant of Salem."

    With the death of Rose, Sabe's ties to Salem were at least partially severed and he joined a sailing crew out of Salem the following year in 1810, and made a voyage to Canton. Upon returning, Sabe settled in Boston and remarried. He died in 1821 at the age of 47.

    Image Descriptions

    1. 1807 receipt for the building of a house for Sabe and Rose. Derby Family Papers, MSS 37, Box 19, Folder 2, Philips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.
    2. Advertisement for the African Society, placed by Sabe Derby in the Salem Gazette, March 18, 1806.
    3. Death Notice of Rose Derby in the Essex Register, June 3, 1809.