Should this woman rest in an unmarked grave in Rhinebeck Cemetery?
Miss Susan Elizabeth Frazier
May 29, 1864 ~ February 3, 1924
Help erect a proper memorial with a gift of any size
Becomes the first woman of color, or person of color, allowed to teach white students in New York City.
Hosting 1,200 people at the Lenox Casino in Harlem, in her role as organizer and President of the Women’s Auxiliary to the “Harlem Hellfighters, a letter addressed to her personally from former President Theodore Roosevelt is read aloud, after which she accepts Roosevelt’s gift of large silk, American flag sent by him in abstentia.
Winner of city newspaper “Evening Telegram” contest to send the most popular teachers in New York City to see the battlefields of France, Frazier pushes aside efforts to stop her from going and pushes asides efforts to have her sit at segregated dining in Paris.
At the 369th Regimental Armory, Frazier is given full military honors, her coffin is draped with the American Flag, taps are played, and commanding officers deliver powerful eulogies.
$2,590 by September 15
We are leading an effort to raise $2,590 by September 15. Donors names will be listed on the Find-A-Grave profile, if they wish. Or may remain anonymous. Donors will be invited to the dedication ceremonies. Checks should be made out and mailed to Kol-Rocklea Memorials, 7370 South Broadway, Red Hook, NY 12571.
In the space for "memo" bottom left of your check you may indicate and sent to Frazier Fund, but the check should be make out and sent to Kol-Rocklea Memorials, 7370 South Broadway, Red Hook, NY 12571.
Do please let me know if you send a check and make a gift so I can report on progress.
Please contact me, by filling in your name and email, thank you! ~ Bill Jeffway
Miss Frazier is the great-granddaughter of Milan farmer, landowner and Revolutionary War Veteran, Andrew Frazier. He is the senior family member in the family plot in Rhinebeck, relocated from original burial on his farm in Milan, as was the tradition.
Her father, Lewis, was born in Milan but relocated to New York City to work as a coachman to a wealthy 5th Avenue family, living in adjacent apartments on West 23rd Street, where Miss Frazier grew up.
Graduated from Normal College, later known as Hunter College, in 1888
“Normal College” was part of the “normal schooling” concept which trained teachers in methods of creating a consistent, “normalized” curriculum. Normal College in New York was a women’s college, but unusual in its commitment to accept Created by the New York State Legislature, Hunter was deemed the only approved institution for those seeking to teach in New York Cityknown for its impartiality regarding race, religion, ethnicity, financial or political favoritism; its pursuit of higher education for women; its high entry requirements; and its rigorous academics.
Thought leader, writer, speaker on the "capacity" of African Americans and Women
On February 16, 1892 she delivered an address to an audience of the Brooklyn Literary Union, called "Some Afro American Women of Mark" which has been referenced from its time of first presentation, through to contemporary books and dissertations today. She argued that through education, culture, and social organizations, there could be an erasing of "color line." She argued actively against the creation of a YMCA or YWCA for persons of color, for example, always looking to erase separation.
Founder, President, the Woman's Loyal Union
Financial Secretary, the Empire State Federation of Afro American Women's Clubs
Frazier led the initiative to create the Women's Auxiliary of the Old Fifteenth New York National Guard, she had put foundational plans in place well before the April 1917 declaration of war, at which point she became its president.
She acted as Sunday School Teacher and Church Missionary Society President at her church, St. Phillip’s Protestant Episcopal Church.
Challenges of Racial Prejudice
Miss Frazier made national headlines over several years in her insistence of obtaining a teaching position in New York City. As a successful graduate of Normal College, a college dedicated to training the best public school teachers, she was well prepared and entitled to teach in New York City. She testified that her application was advancing until it was discovered she was a person of color. She retained an attorney, filed a "writ of Mandamus"to force school authorities to execute their duties, but failed, with courts saying there could not be prejudice in the school authorities' decision. She took it no further.
But no doubt due to her high profile, her extreme competence, and public arguments, she received an appointment a few months later, and held that position until her death.
Trip to Europe
Miss Frazier was honored on Lincoln's birthday by Company A of the Women's Police Reserve, 38th precinct.
From newspaper at the time: In her remarks she referred to the outcropping of the race prejudice which sought to prevent her from making the trip. It was alleged that an effort was made to buy her off when it was discovered that she was one of the successful contestants. But she could not be bought. To all of the propositions arguments and offers to prevent her sailing ,Miss Fraser returned the one answer, that she was standing on her rights as an American woman and would make the trip. On board the boat, an effort to seat her at a separate table, and a similar effort at the hotel in Paris were frustrated by Miss Frazier's ignoring the plan. The officer in charge of the party, in fact, was put to the necessity of apologizing to Miss Frazier for the seeming attempts at segregation. After overcoming these attempts of race prejudice,Miss Frazier declared that her trip through France and England was very pleasant."
The Rhinebeck Cemetery plot map indicates that Susan Elizabeth Frazier alone in one instance, and with her brother in two instances, was resonsible for purchasing the three large lots for the family. We do not know exactly when the Frazier family remains were removed from their family farm on Willow Glen Road in Milan. It could be the early 1920's.
Special and particular thanks to Beverly Kane of the Friends of Rhinebeck Cemetery for her research in locating the grave, her advice in developing the memorial, and her patience and persistence along the way. What appears simple can be a long journey.