He Fled to Boston, For Freedom

January 27, 2016

Filmmaker: Roberto Mighty

At about age 36, Peter Byus (b. unverified, d. 1867) escaped slavery in Virginia and settled in Boston. Against all odds, he became a man of means. His monument depicts a bondsman breaking free from his chains, and is based on the seal of the British Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.  Voice: Tyrone Latin  Special Thanks: Stephen Pinkerton, Docent, for historical research and image of last will and testament. Music: Chris Zabriskie “There’s Probably No Time” Performed by Chris Zabriskie.

“I find Peter Byus’ will very moving. His words – excerpted here from almost 150 years ago – ring out a message of tragedy, hope and uplift to us all. It was an honor to bring his story into the modern era.” – Roberto Mighty, Artist-in-Residence

earth.sky, a multi-screen presentation 52 minutes in length, starts with the story of Peter Byus, a fugitive slave from Virginia who escaped to Massachusetts. The Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery is still fundraising to support the completion of Mighty’s project, which will be available as a GPS-tagged exhibition on Mount Auburn’s new mobile app slated to launch in 2017.


  1. Stephen Pinkerton says:

    According to his death record, Peter Byus died of chronic hepatitis on 26 February 1867, one day earlier than the date inscribed on the monument at Mount Auburn Cemetery. His age was recorded as sixty-six years, nine months and twenty-six days, yielding a birth date of 30 April 1800.

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