Arthur Crumpler – #3

Some of what we know about Arthur Crumpler was reported in “Boston’s Oldest Pupil: And He’s 74 and Goes to the Evening School.” The Boston Sunday Globe, 3 April 1898, p.25. arthur crumplerNoted at a later date;  Arthur’s age would have been 64 at the time not, 74.

Arthur Crumpler parents were slaves from adjoining plantations in Courtland, Southampton County, Virginia. Benjamin Crumpler owned Arthur’s father and that’s the surname  he was given. Arthur had mechanical talents which were recognized by his many masters who may have wanted to profit from his ideas. The last plantation he worked on was near Smithfield VA.
He ran away sometime in the winter of 1861 and took refuge on the gunboat Cumberland which transported him to Fort Monroe in the Union controlled part of Virginia. This was a symbolic site of freedom for fugitives. General Butler defied the Fugitive Slave Act that required slaves be returned to their owners. Instead, he hired them to work for the Union army in what he called  his contraband policy. After about 6 months of work, Arthur took his army pay and headed North. The Army appeared to  have deliberately cheated him by giving him $40 instead of the promised $160. He said this happened because he couldn’t read and just put an ‘X’ on the form.  He left Virginia on July 6,1862 and arrived on July 9, 1862.

A Boston antislavery group found him a blacksmith’s job with Edward Kendall and sometime in 1863 Arthur found his way to the West Newton English and Classical School.
The following passages are from Nathaniel T. Allen – Teacher, Reformer, Philanthropist by Mary Green.allenbook
“A number of coloured people ‘contrabands’ came to West Newton and obtained employment much to the disgust of certain of the Irish laborer’s in the place.
Among them was a veritable ‘Uncle Tom’ in mind and spirit, Arthur Crumpler by name. Mr. Allen befriends him and taught him to read and great was the man’s delight when he was able to read His Bible. He slept in the barn and did chores.”




In June 1863, Arthur Crumpler registered for the draft and in Nov of 1863, Green writes that he cast his 1st vote that was heavily challenged.1863 Draft
In the same year, Rebecca Davis’s first husband, Wyatt Lee died. Boston’s death records for 1863 list him as: coloured, a laborer and cause of death was phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) of 6 months duration. He’s buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, in the area containing the unmarked graves of the City’s indigent.

Rebecca and Wyatt were married on April 19, 1852 in a Methodist Church in Charlestown, MA, and by 1860 the Federal Census lists them as living in Boston.

To be continued with Rebecca’s work as a nurse, her entrance into the New England Female Medical College, her graduation as a Doctress of Medicine in 1864, and her early work to provide medical care to poor women and children in the Beacon Hill area populated by many Blacks.

We’ve passed the $1,700 mark of our $5,000 goal.  Thank you!
Green, Mary A. Nathaniel T. Allen Teacher, Reformer, Philanthropist. Privately Printed:1906.


Images of Rebecca Crumpler – #2

No one has yet to find a photograph of Rebecca (neé Davis) Lee Crumpler who was born on February 8, 1831, in Christiana, Delaware. She self-reported this in the West Newton English and Classical School catalog where at one point, she was a special student in mathematics.1   This birth date differs from information in the 1860 federal census and Massachusetts marriage records.

She was “reared by a kind aunt in Pennsylvania whose usefulness with the sick was continually sought and I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to be in a position to relieve the sufferings of others.” She somehow found her way to Boston, and reports in the introduction to her book, that she devoted her time to nursing as a business working under the direction of different doctors from 1852-1860. She lived most of the time in her adopted home in Charlestown, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.2

These women are not Dr. Crumpler, but their portraits are often in articles about Dr. Crumpler.  They are:

440px-Mary_Eliza_Mahoney ipedia

Mary Eliza Mahoney (1845-1926): The first African-American woman to receive a nursing diploma (1879). She was  born in Dorchester, MA, and graduated from the nursing program  at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. Image credit: American Nurses Association

Dr Eliza Greir


Eliza Ann Grier MD (1864-1902): A former slave and the first African-American female physician in Georgia.Photo courtesy Legacy Center Archives, Drexel College of Medicine



crumpler medal


A commemorative medallion with a composite image of Dr. Rebecca Crumpler. Read the interesting story of the medal.


Kudos to the designer who created this embroidery series.


And how about Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison Published in 2017 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

mighty girl

A Boston Globe article on July 22, 1894,  titled: Sets in Colored Society, describes Dr. Crumpler “as the one woman, who as a physician, made an enviable place for herself in the ranks of the medical fraternity….. She is a very pleasant and intellectual women, and an indefatigable church worker. Dr. Crumpler is 59 or 60 years of age, tall and straight with light brown skin and gray hair.”3

It would be wonderful to know what Rebecca Crumpler looked like but  at least we know what she did.

Please donate to the Crumpler fund which will place a gravestone at her burial site.


 1. An Illustrated Biographical Catalog of the Principals, Teachers and Students of the West Newton English and Classical School, West Newton, Mass. 1854-1893. Compiled by a Former Pupil.” Boston: 1895.

2. Crumpler, Rebecca. A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts. Boston: Cashman, Keating & Co, Printers, 1883.









Rebecca and Arthur Crumpler Fund – #1

This is the first post about Rebecca  Lee Crumpler (1831-1895), and Arthur Crumpler  who are buried in Fairview Cemetery, Hyde Park, Massachusetts.  The brown outline is where a gravestone would have been, and with your help, there will soon be one. The plot is in the second row, and the front of the stone will face up the incline. Aspen Avenue is on the right, and the cemetery office is in the background.


The gravestone will be place in the area of the stick. Mother Brook is in the background.

facing stone from angle

Interestingly, one of  the Crumpler’s Hyde Park homes still stands and can be seem from the gravesite. The house is in the lower left corner on Sunnyside Avenue, now called Solaris Avenue. (Hyde Park Atlas, 1899 plate 12)

1899 Atlas-12 cropped small

Only in the last 10  years or so have Dr. Crumpler’s  accomplishments been recognized. She was the first African – American women medical doctor trained in the United States. She graduated in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College in Boston. The college later became Boston University School of Medicine. She lived, studied, and work in the Boston area, but is still generally unknown in Boston.

Arthur Crumpler (1835-1910)  was a fugitive from slavery in Virginia, and found his way to West Newton, Massachusetts via the Union Army in Norfolk, VA. He also had a remarkable life.

Here are a few links to stories of their lives.[pler-took-pride-learning/

Some posts have errors.  Unfortunately, when a writer makes a mistake it is often repeated by others. Our postings will share information from primary sources.

Please support this project with a donation through our PayPal link/donation button on the right sidebar, or by mailing a check to:

Friends of the Hyde Park Library

                                                        For: Crumpler Fund

                                            35 Harvard Avenue, Hyde Park, Massachusetts  02136

The Friends of the Hyde Park Library, Inc., is a tax exempt organization.



Reenacting Ribbon Cutting

In January 2000, the  ceremony to formally dedicated the additions to the Hyde Park library took place. The architectural and library team present at that event gathered on January 25, 2020 to celebrate the 20th anniversary.

Robert Miklos, then at SchwartzSilver Architects, was the lead architect for the $4 million project.  Using slides, he showed  the design and construction process while emphasizing  the effort to bring elements of the 100 year old building into the new building.

Former library staff and patrons returned for the event.  Patrons, volunteers and community organizers also shared in the festivities.cake Recently elected City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo actively took part in one-on-one and group discussions on  topics related to city support of the library,  volunteerism (FHPL) and  HP Historical Society goals and needs.

A behind the scene tour was  give to those with interest in a particular area of the library, such as the taxidermist owls, and the dingy basement stairs to the then, off- limit stacks.

Architectural drawings and photographs of the multi-year project along with professional journals featuring the library were on view.

The library’s worn hardwood floors will be restore next month, and hopefully  will resemble their award winning glow.

3 ways to buy your 2020 raffle tickets

THe Friends are pleased to offer two items in this early Spring Raffle. Winning names will be drawn at the Friends Annual Meeting on March 28, 2020. You do not have to be at the meeting to be a winner but you do need to buy some tickets.  

raffle basket 2

1. A basket of books, gift cards and more

  • 1876 Hyde Park Map (reproduction)
  • 2019 HPMS Ornament (Readville Trotting Park)
  • Black Tote
  • Boston Harbor Note Cards
  • Friends T-Shirts (2 Med & 1 Child)
  • Gogooda Storage Bags
  • Hyde Park Lunch Bag
  • Hyde Park Timeline by Nancy H. Hannon
  • Lindt Chocolates
  • Photo Frame (5′ x 7″)

Gift Cards:

  • Citywide Friends Copley library book sale $25
  • Essence of Time Café $10
  • Olive Garden Gift Card $25


A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts
by Joseph M. Bagley

A Lighthouse Family, Growing Up at the Lovells Island and Range Lights
by Harold B. Jennings

Kings Handbook of Boston Harbor
by M. F. Sweetser

Now or Never! 4th Massachusetts Infantry’s War to End Slavery
by Ray Anthony Shepard

  1.   NEW Corvette roller bag suitcase

IMG_1088                        IMG_1088

This suitcase  was donated  by John Wentworth.

–How to buy raffle tickets–

Tickets are $2.00 each or 3 tickets for $5.00.  Three ways to enter!

  1. Ticket forms/envelope may be picked up from the display case in the library opposite the circulation desk.  Put completed form with payment in cash or check in the collection box (library staff cannot accept payments or issue tickets); or
  2. Make out a check to “Friends of the Hyde Park Branch Library” and mail with your name, phone number and email address,  to the Friends c/o Hyde Park Branch Library, 35 Harvard Avenue, Hyde Park, MA, 02136; or
  3. Use a credit card with the Paypal buttons below.  Quantity for 3 raffle ticket option can be increased.
1 Raffle ticket, $2
3 Raffle tickets, $5

If you are a winner, we’ll call you on March 30th.

Save the Date – 20th Anniversary

This first photo has  not been photo-shopped!  Standing in the future site of Menino Wing and Children’s Garden are the library staff posing for their 1997 Holiday greeting card. A few more images of the library to peak you interest in seeing more.

Join us on Saturday, January 25*, 2020  from 12noon – 3pm to to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the expansion and restoration of the historic Hyde Park Library. We will be joined by the architectural team and participating BPL support staff, who will give a presentation on the planning and process of this award winning building, including before-and-after photographs. 

This event is free and open to the public. More details in January.

*Snow date Saturday, February 29