Cesar’s Story, Scotch Plains Baptist Church, Scotch Plains, New Jersey (1747)
The moss-covered gravestone of Cesar leans on a wall outside Scotch Plains Baptist Church, which was founded in 1747. Born in Guinea, West Africa, Cesar (Caesar/Seaser) is the first first Black person of which there is sure knowledge in the history of Plainfield. He was owned by Isaac Drake, a well-known farmer from Plainfield.
Cesars grave is not far from that of church deacon Nathaniel Drake, son of Isaac Drake and Cesars last owner. When Drake joined the church in nearby Scotch Plains in 1747, Cesar was also listed on the membership rolls. When Drake died in 1759, he left instructions in a will dated January 3, 1756, giving the slave to his son for 19 years after his death.
As a free man, Cesar served as a wagoner in the Revolutionary War while in his 70s, bringing supplies to soldiers at the Blue Hills Fort and encampment. On his headstone reads:
Here rest the remains of Caesar, an African, who died February 7, 1806 aged 104 years. He was for more than half a century, a worthy member of the church in this place and closed his life in confidence of a Christian. His numrous friends have erected this stone as a tribute of respect to his numerous virtues and piety. When flames shall roll away the earth and skies while atheists, kings and infidels turn pale Caesar will soar from natures funeral pile to bask forever in his Saviors smile.
There also is a flat government slate there that lists him as teamster in Captain Davisons Brigade in the Revolutionary War. In front of the church there is a boulder with a plaque, now green with age, that was dedicated by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1955. It lists 24 soldiers from Scotch Plains who served in the Revolutionary War. Church members continue to use this cemetery today. Also buried at the Scotch Plains Baptist Church Cemetery is David Allen Drair, wife of H. G., daughter of Helen May, birthday Oct. 10, 1897, died July 5, 1898.