Caesar DuBois

Caesar DuBois appears in the 1820 U.S. Census for New Paltz, as a free Black man heading a household of five. His status as a free man in 1820 indicates Caesar was manumitted prior to New York State's general emancipation in 1827. Caesar appears again in the 1830 census, living north of New Paltz in the area known as the Bontecou, heading a family of 6. A few miles farther north was Ezekiel Elting’s mill at Dashville, where Caesar sometimes worked between 1826 and 1833 in exchange for goods, as recorded in one of Elting’s account books.

The first land record found for Caesar is dated October 18, 1831, suggesting he was one of the first African Americans to purchase land in New Paltz. Caesar was identified on the 1831 Ulster County land record as "a man of colour" paying $25 for his lot. Two additional land purchases were made by Caesar in 1834 and in 1841. The total value of these three separate purchases was nowhere near the $250 land qualification required in New York State for Black men to vote, so how do we know Caesar was able to? The voter poll list for New Paltz for an election commencing November 2, 1840 lists Caesar and indicates he submitted ballots in four different races taking place that day. 

Unfortunately, after 1840, Caesar's name is absent from the existing poll lists and the voter registration books for New Paltz. When his name appeared in the 1850 U.S. Census, his land was valued at only $200, so perhaps his right to vote had been revoked.

Caesar was born around 1775 and died prior to 1855. He was survived after his death by at least one child, a daughter named Nancy who appears with him on the 1850 census. Caesar may have been the older brother (or other relation) of Philip DuBois who lived near him in 1850. Philip was the husband of Isabella Deyo, the mother of Jane Deyo Wynkoop.

- Josephine Bloodgood, HHS Director of Curatorial and Preservation Affairs, adapted from her talk,“History is not stagnant” Free Black Men and Voting Rights in 19th-Century New Paltz (February 2021), and the exhibition, The Old Village, the Evolving Neighborhood of Huguenot Street (DuBois Fort Visitor Center, May-September 2023).