Bench by the Road: Cynthia Hesdra
A Bench by the Road
There is no place you or I can go, to think about or not think about, to summon the presences of, or recollect the absences of slaves; nothing that reminds us of the ones who made the journey and of those who did not make it. There is no suitable memorial, or plaque, or wreath, or wall, or park, or skyscraper lobby. There’s no three hundred-foot tower, there’s no small bench by the road. -- Toni Morrison, 1989
The Bench by the Road Project was launched by the Toni Morrison Society in honor of Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. This Bench is placed in memory of Cynthia Hesdra, an African American woman who was enslaved early in her life and after gaining her freedom became a successful entrepreneur, land owner, and Underground Railroad Conductor. She lived in the Village of Nyack, New York, during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Hesdra, born in Tappan, New York, acquired her wealth through her thriving laundry trade and purchased a number of properties in both New York City and Nyack. She and her husband Edward opened their house to countless fugitive slaves who made their journey north along the Hudson
Erected 2015 by Toni Morrison Society.
Location. 41° 5.324′ N, 73° 55.021′ W. Marker is in Nyack, New York, in Rockland County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Piermont Avenue and Depew Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Nyack NY 10960, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Memorial Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Couch Court (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nyack First Settlement (about 600 feet away); First Reformed Church of Nyack (about 700 feet away); Carson McCullers (approx. ¼ mile away); Hopper House (approx. 0.3 miles away); Historic Underground Railroad (approx. 0.4 miles away); a different marker also named Historic Underground Railroad (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nyack.
Also see . . .
1. Toni Morrison Visits Nyack. (Submitted on February 26, 2019, by Clare Sheridan of Tappan, New York.)
2. Cynthia Hesdra (Wikipedia). "Cynthia Hesdra was born on March 6, 1808 in Tappan, New York, Rockland County to John and Jane Moore. Although Cynthia Hesdra spent a portion of her life as a slave, at the time of her death in 1879, she was quite wealthy. She operated businesses in Nyack, New York and in the city of New York. She also owned several properties in Nyack, New York City, and Bergen County, New Jersey. Her heirs, including her husband Edward, fought over the ex-slave's fortune, in a series of precedent setting court cases." (Submitted on February 26, 2019.)
3. Bench Histories (The Toni Morrison Society). Lists and describes the twenty benches installed through the TMS from 2008-2016. (Submitted on February 26, 2019.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 27, 2019. This page originally submitted on February 25, 2019, by Clare Sheridan of Tappan, New York. This page has been viewed 48 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 25, 2019, by Clare Sheridan of Tappan, New York. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.