Drusilla Crook - DRUS1


Drusilla Crook - DRUS1




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



Location or Address

East Hampton, NY

Enslaver or Household

Lyman Beecher


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

Male or Female



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, may have been born enslaved, too. However, the 1800 Census for East Hampton lists two white adults, one white child, and one under the category "all other free people. . . ."

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 bound in the Beecher house, now East Hampton Village Hall.

Owner or Household

Lyman and Roxana Beecher



“Drusilla Crook - DRUS1,” Plain Sight Project, accessed July 18, 2024, https://plainsightproject.org/items/show/1849.