Born a free person in Norfolk in 1823, Mary Peake devoted her life to the education and betterment of African Americans. About 1850, she founded the Daughters of Zion to aid the poor and the sick. A seamstress by day, Peake violated state law to teach her fellow blacks at night. During the Civil War, protected and encouraged by the occupying Union army and prominent local leaders, she taught openly in the shade of the Emancipation Oak in Hampton and at Fort Monroe. She founded the first black school in Hampton at Brown Cottage in September 1861 with the sponsorship of the American Missionary Association. Her school was a forerunner of Hampton University. Peake died on 22 February 1862.
Geographic Location: Hampton
Physical Description of Location: 101-111 Poplar Drive, Hampton VA 23669. Marker is located at edge of Elmerton cemetery, on a side street off of main thoroughfares.
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