Black History Month: Remembering Bloom
A woman from Southold's annual tradition led her to find the identity of the slave girl buried at the Old Burying Ground near the First Presbyterian Church in 1810.
Among the rows of stately gravestones of Long Island's first settlers at the Old Burying Ground, one stone stood out from the rest. The only identification on the gravestone read 'Negro Lady died 1810.' The grave went unnoticed for more than 144 years until Eleanor Lingo decided to place a wreath on the grave site just before Christmas of 1954.
As a young girl, Lingo remembers walking home from school and noticing the tombstones near the First Presbyterian Church. She said the weathered brown tombstone captured her heart.
Lingo didn't know who the slave girl was, but she felt there was a connection. It wasn't until 1979 that Lingo finally learned who the girl was. She came across an article in the Peconic Bay Shopper titled, "Bloom, a Negro Girl." According to the author, a young black girl was thrown off a British ship on the shores of Southold. She was deaf and the only thing she could say was 'bloom.' The Mulford family rescued the little castaway and named her "Bloom."
"She was a special child," said Lingo.
Lingo, who is now 91, said she vowed to never forget the girl. She has placed a wreath at the grave for 63 years in what has become a tradition in Southold.