Sunday, March 2, 1997

Cyrus Bustill

Black Revolutionary Baker

Cryus Bustill was born in Burlington in 1732, the son of an English attorney and an African slave. After learning the baker's trade from Thomas Prior, a local baker and member of the Friends Meeting, Bustill gained his freedom at age 36. During the Revolutionary War, he was commended for supplying American troops with baked goods at the Burlington docks, and reportedly given a silver piece by General Washington.

Bustill and his wife, the daughter of an Englishman and a Delaware Indian, later moved to Philadelphia where they and their eight children attended the Arch Street Friends Meeting. Bustill was an early member of Philadelphia's Free African Society, started in 1787. After retiring from baking, he started a school in Philadelphia. He died in 1806. You may have heard of his great-great-grandson, Rutgers University valedictorian, singer and actor Paul Robeson.

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