Oliver Cromwell Revolutionary Drummer And African American
By Bob Small
The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), as mentioned in a previous post, is changing who is remembered, both on their own and, sometimes, with a little push.
Most recently and locally, a long overdue plaque was placed at the house of the memorably named Oliver Cromwell, an Afro-American who served with George Washington from 1776 to the 1781 Battle of Yorktown. He accompanied George Washington as his regimental drummer during this time. The plaque is at his last residence in Burlington, N.J..
Among other notable facts about Oliver Cromwell is that he lived to be 100, a rare feat in that time. He was born May 24, 1752. He was awarded a “Badge of Merit” for six years of faithful service and also received a war pension.
There is an Oliver Cromwell Black History Society founded in 1984. They have given out over $20,000 to date for students particiating in the Black History Month Art and Essay Contests
They also have a yearly “Oliver Cromwell Living History Award”. Contact information about the society can be found here.
In 1850, Oliver Cromwell told the census taker that his occupation was “Drummer in the Revolution”.
Deb Hvizdos, the New Jersey DAR State Historian came across his story in 2017, shortly after taking over her position.
“His story spoke to me,” she said.
She began working on his case at that point, though the entire process took almost five years.
This is not mentioned on either the New Jersey State Society of DAR –last updated on Sept. 26 –, nor on their national website, nor on the closest New Jersey Chapter to Burlington, The Colonel Thomas Reynolds Chapter of Mount Holly.
To paraphrase Matthew 5:15 the DAR should not be hiding it’s light under a bushel.
As to Burlington, NJ, we spent some time there earlier in our lives during our “Quaker phrase.”
it was a place for regional Quaker meetings and had a long previous history of abolitionism, and, at the time, it felt like a modern version of “small town America”. Have not been there in the proverbial ages, though the Burlington Quaker Meeting House and Conference Center, circa 1783, is still open for business.