Self-Determination Strategies of Free Blacks in the Old Northwest
The Land Act of 1820 made it possible for settlers to begin to populate the West and added to the confiscation of land from Native Americans. Former landowners – a mix of Native American, African and European ancestry – migrated to the northern frontier and founded at least thirty well-defined free black communities between 1820 and 1850 in the Old Northwest, becoming an important safe haven and beacon of freedom.
Its notoriety and size grew as slaves often migrated to these locations after they were granted emancipation in the wills of slave owners who purchased land in the area for them to settle on. The newly free people found sanctuary as these communities were also rumored to shelter runaway slaves in their role as active participants in the Underground Railroad Movement.
However, the prosperity of blacks living in these villages angered some of the local whites – many of whom were migrating at the same time and were connected to local law officials and politicians. Archival documents reveal continued acts of terrorism perpetuated against blacks which heightened the importance of the strength of the communities they founded – specifically schools, churches, businesses, and intergenerational family structures – in providing a unified front that allowed them to bond and thrive in an environment that was not always conducive to their survival.
Invisible in Plain Sight: Self-Determination Strategies of Free Blacks in the Old Northwest provides a rare detailed examination of an often overlooked piece of the American tapestry. It is perfect reading for history classes in high school and college, as well as for history enthusiasts looking for something new.
Chapter 24. Social Life in the Black Settlements
| 99 →
· 24 ·
SOCIAL LIFE IN THE BLACK SETTLEMENTS
What is known about the social lives of black settlers in the four communities discussed in this manuscript comes from The Lima Times Democrat, a monthly black newspaper of the period. In the January 25, 1878, issue references are made to “Black Camp Meetings” that were held quarterly at the Allen County Fair Grounds. A summary of some of the activities that occurred at camp meetings provides insight of their social importance to blacks living in this area during the Jim Crow era.
• Held annually at the fairgrounds for many years
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.