New historic marker honors first African-American clergyman

By Julia Purdy

WEST RUTLAND—Lemuel Haynes was the first ordained African-American minister in America, and he preached for 30 years in Rutland’s West Parish, now incorporated as West Rutland. On Sept. 8, the 247th state historic marker was dedicated at the tiny Protestant cemetery on Pleasant Street in West Rutland.

Although Rev. Haynes’ life and work are known to scholars, he has been “the best-kept secret in Rutland,” said Mary Retczek, vice president of the West Rutland Historical Society, who moderated the ceremonies.

Pleasant Street was marked off to only one lane as cars lined the street and some 50 observers gathered at the edge of the cemetery lawn.

A color guard from American Legion Post #87 and Boy Scout Troop 116 added a tone of formality to the proceedings, with the West…

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