Varied Stories of an African American Patriot

What should we remember about Andrew Frazier?  How could what we memorialize matter almost 300 years after his birth? How do answers to these questions change over generations?

The small, rural town of Milan in northern Dutchess County had a population of persons of color of 70 in 1800, and just 12 in 1980 (with the overall population more or less the same).  Why is that pre-Civil War history not visible today?

Why was Andrew Frazier ultimately buried with his family not directly in “Section E” of Rhinebeck section (dedicated to largely unmarked graves of African Americans and paupers) ~ but adjacent to Section E?

Why was Frazier memorialized (incorrectly) as a Body Servant of George Washington, a phenomenon so prevalent in the US that by 1868 Mark Twain had written a “biographical sketch,” a parody of the myriad body servants?

Why was he referred to (given language of the time) as “a colored person”– but by 1932 being interpreted as variations of white and husband to a Native American woman?

How did it come to pass that Andrew’s great-granddaughter, who in 1896 became the first person of color to teach white children in New York City public schools, has conflicting reports of where she is buried, and no memorial gravestone? And the 1925 memorial tablet in her church is missing?

View the Andrew Frazier presentation here
Bill Jeffway speaks at Rhinebeck Starr Library
Courtesy Friends of Rhinebeck Cemetery

November 6, 2016

The Veterans Day 2016 weekend performance of “The Kept Private” by the Storyhorse Documentary Theater

Post-event comments by WWII veteran Walter PatriceWalter speaks to the meaning of finally finding the unmarked resting place of his family, at the age of 98.

A few photos here.

Frazier Family Profiles Written or Curated by Bill Jeffway

Profile of Andrew Frazier for the Rhinebeck Historical Society Newsletter, November 2016.

Frazier family tree: Andrew Frazier second and third generations.

The extraordinary story of Andrew Frazier’s great-granddaughter, a nationally-recognized advocate of African American and Women’s “capacity” at the turn of the last century.

Full Text of Susan Elizabeth Frazier’s 1892 “Women of Mark.”

Frazier Family Profiles Written by others

Link to video of Vassar’s Prof. Brian McAdoo presentation courtesy Rhinebeck Historical Society of Frazier family burial ground.

Profile of Susan Elizabeth Frazier by Hallie Q Brown, 1925.

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