Skip to main content

Item of the Week: Isaac Plato’s Parsonage Work

Thu, 02/15/2024 - 12:31

From the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection

This invoice from Isaac Plato (circa 1767-1832) is signed by both Plato and Abraham Parsons, who paid him on behalf of the East Hampton Town Trustees. The invoice is for “chestnut rails” for the East Hampton parsonage and a trip to Connecticut, presumably for supplies or materials.

Additional accounts suggest that Isaac Plato was a skilled woodworker or carpenter; in April 1804 he received the mill shaft for the Gardiner Mill, which Nathaniel Dominy V built.

The Presbyterian Church was East Hampton’s first religious establishment, and during the early years it remained deeply intertwined with local government. Isaac Plato’s invoice is dated June 11, 1811, just over a month after the installation of the newly arrived Rev. Ebenezer Phillips on May 5 of that year. The parsonage probably needed some renovations or repairs for Phillips, who lived at the Mulford Farm during his tenure as pastor.

Isaac Plato was a prominent free-born African-American who appears in tax rolls, legal documents, and John Lyon Gardiner’s account books. The 1801 East Hampton tax rolls indicate that Plato owned no taxable real estate, but had $110 of personal property. By 1804, he clearly owned land in Springs, since his property is described in the metes and bounds of a deed. It was valued at $200 in the 1811 tax rolls, double what it was worth 10 years earlier.

In 1807, he and Martin Plato were listed among the shareholders for the new Springs School building.

According to a Ph.D. dissertation by Allison McGovern, an anthropological archaeologist, Isaac and his wife, Huldah, raised five children: Isaac Jr., Charles R., Alfred, Silas, and Harriet. Their sons Isaac Jr. and Silas became whalers. Isaac Jr. appears to have been identified at times as Captain Plato. Charles Plato went on to help found St. David’s A.M.E. Zion Church in the Eastville section of Sag Harbor.


Andrea Meyer, a librarian and archivist, is head of collection for the East Hampton Library’s Long Island Collection.

 

Villages

Breaking Fast, Looking for Peace

Dozens of Muslim men, women, and children gathered on April 10 at Agawam Park in Southampton Village to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr and break their Ramadan fast together with a multicultural potluck-style celebration. The observance of this Muslim holiday wasn't the only topic on their minds.

Apr 18, 2024

Item of the Week: Anastasie Parsons Mulford and Her Daughter

This photo from the Amagansett Historical Association shows Anastasie Parsons Mulford (1869-1963) with her arm around her daughter, Louise Parsons Mulford (1899-1963). They ran the Windmill Cottage boarding house for many years.

Apr 18, 2024

Green Giants: Here to Stay?

Long Island’s South Fork, known for beaches, maritime history, and fancy people, is also known for its hedges. Hedge installation and maintenance are big business, and there could be a whole book about hedges, with different varieties popular during different eras. In the last decade, for example, the “green giant,” a now ubiquitous tree, has been placed along property lines throughout the Hamptons. It’s here to stay, and grow, and grow.

Apr 18, 2024

Your support for The East Hampton Star helps us deliver the news, arts, and community information you need. Whether you are an online subscriber, get the paper in the mail, delivered to your door in Manhattan, or are just passing through, every reader counts. We value you for being part of The Star family.

Your subscription to The Star does more than get you great arts, news, sports, and outdoors stories. It makes everything we do possible.