Marker notes home
of early black poet
A marker to commemorate the home where Jupiter Hammon, America’s first African-American published poet and a Huntington native, spent the last years of his life, was recently installed in Huntington.
The town board joined members of the town’s African-American Historic Designation Council this week in unveiling the historic marker in front of the house at 73 West Shore Rd.
Hammon, who was born 1711 and died around 1806, is considered the first African-American writer to be published in the United States. His first poem was published in 1761. He published three other poems and three essays.
Hammon was born into slavery in Lloyd Neck and shared a close relationship with the Lloyd family, who were among the first English settlers in what is now called Lloyd Harbor. Hammon worked alongside the Lloyds and went to school with the Lloyd children. As patriots during the American Revolution Hammon and one of the Lloyds fled to Connecticut and returned after the war. Hammon continued to write poetry and prose and became a leader in the African-American community.
The house was built between 1790 and 1995. It was purchased by Hammon’s great-nephew in 1799. The marker notes it was the first house purchased by an African-American in Huntington. The 1800 census lists Hammon as head of the household.
Last year, at the request of the Historic Designation Council, the town board placed a historic designation on the house, preserving it.
“Jupiter Hammon was a literary figure not only for Huntington he is known throughout the country and world,” said Irene Moore, chairwoman of the African-American Historic Designation Council. “It’s only fitting he has a marker to commemorate his life in his hometown.”
Deborah S. Morris