Drusilla Crook

Title

Drusilla Crook

Subject

Person

Description

Black girl bound to Lyman Beecher's household, c. 1805

Male or Female

Female

Location or Address

East Hampton, NY

Status

Unknown

Enslaver or Household

Lyman Beecher

Birthplace

East Hampton, NY

Biographical Notes

Shortly after Lyman Beecher's wife, Roxana, bore their first child, Drusilla Crook was brought to the household to take care of the baby -- she was 5 years old, "a colored girl," Beecher wrote in his autobiography. Zillah, as the Beechers called her, was "bound to us till she was eighteen." When Mary, their second child, was born, the Beechers took Zillah's sister, Rachel, as well. "Zillah was the smartest black woman I ever knew. She learned every thing that Catharine did, and as well as she did," Beecher wrote. Rachel did not have her sister's gifts.

Lyman Beecher had bought the house built in 1800 not long after he came here to be the town minister. He had been a 1797 Yale graduate before he accepted the East Hampton post and went on to be a leader in American Protestantism.

The Crook family name appears in Gardiner's Island record books a few years before the American Revolution. David Gardiner's inventory of possessions made after his death lists a man, Plato Crook, age 35, and a boy, Abel Crook, 8. In 1786, Dr. Nathaniel Gardiner's "Negro Zil" received a pair of shoes from the Hedges cobblers shop. Drusilla and Rachel, who slept above the kitchen, had almost certainly been enslaved, too. In New York's gradual abolition law of 1799, any child of an enslaved mother born before July 4 that year was to remain in servitude until she was 25; men were enslaved all but in name until they were 28 and close to the end of their most productive years. A Black woman named Rachel died in East Hampton in 1842 and might have been the same Rachel as the girl held in the Beecher house, now East Hampton Village Hall.

Source/s

Autobiography, Correspondence, Etc., of Lyman Beecher, D.D. Cambridge, Harvard Univeristym 1864.

Owner or Household

Lyman and Roxana Beecher

Collection

Citation

“Drusilla Crook,” Plain Sight Project, accessed September 27, 2021, http://plainsightproject.org/items/show/1849.

Geolocation