WASHINGTON (ABC7) — For two weeks, a small group of students from Gonzaga College High School sorted through pages of centuries-old documents to uncover facts about their school's past.
"I thought it would be cool to go to the archives and just learn about the school and the history," 16-year-old Joe Boland told ABC7 News.
The students pored over records at the Georgetown University Library dating back to the 1820's. At that time Gonzaga was known as the Washington Seminary. Did it have links to slavery? The research answered yes.
"With money from slave plantations going directly into the building and construction and funding of Washington Seminary," Ed Donnellan, a history teacher at Gonzaga explained.
Donnellan and the students also found a tie between Washington Seminary and two slaves; known as Isaih and Gabriel.
"We saw this powerful notation in a book from the early 1820's that simply says, 'To Gabriel for weeding in the garden time of recreation,' and it was a 6 cents payment to him," Donnellan added.
"It was definitely surprising to find two slaves on campus so yes, that was definitely a big shock for me," Daniel Podratsky, a junior at the school shared.
"They want to continue to find out the stories of Gabriel and Isaih. So, these two people that we found about are in their eyes, Gonzaga brothers," Donnellan says.
The students think the slave Gabriel was ultimately emancipated and are looking for his bill of sale.