Cynthia Hesdra (1808-1879) was born into slavery. Her father was described as a “half-breed Indian.” She was described as “mulatto” in Census records.
She married Edward Hesdra who was a free mixed-race man. The couple purchased Cynthia’s freedom after their marriage. They spent the early years of their marriage in New York City where Cynthia ran a laundry business and owned several properties.
They went on to move to Nyack, NY where they both continued to amass property and wealth. Hesdra became involved with Underground Railroad. Runaway slaves would rest at her house stowing away during the day and then traveling on northward once it was night.
In 1879, Hesdra died. At first, it was said, without a will. Her husband soon produced a will that spurred litigation with the family. At the time of her death, her assets valued at well over $100,000. –Heidi Durrow
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
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