Friday, February 3, 2012

African Archeology - African History

If we're going to do Black History Month, we need to go back to where we started and get it right. The following images include quite a few that I've never seen before in spite of the fact that I've been around for well over a half a century. I still remember being ashamed of the the images of Africa and Africans that were portrayed in the American media and in the schools at that time. It's no wonder I couldn't stand history classes. Check out the images and info in these videos, take notes and do further research. If you are a teacher, include this material in your lesson plans. If you are working with young people in our communities, find a way to get them interested in studying our true history. Let's it right this time around.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


by William Cowper
FORCED from home and all its pleasures
           Afric's coast I left forlorn,
To increase a stranger's treasures
           O'er the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
           Paid my price in paltry gold;
But, though slave they have enrolled me,
           Minds are never to be sold.

Still in thought as free as ever,
           What are England's rights, I ask,
Me from my delights to sever,
           Me to torture, me to task ?
Fleecy locks and black complexion
           Cannot forfeit nature's claim;
Skins may differ, but affection
           Dwells in white and black the same.

Why did all-creating nature
           Make the plant for which we toil?
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
           Sweat of ours must dress the soil.
Think, ye masters iron-hearted,
           Lolling at your jovial boards,
Think how many backs have smarted
           For the sweets your cane affords.

Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
           Is there One who reigns on high?
Has He bid you buy and sell us,
           Speaking from his throne, the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
           Matches, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means that duty urges
           Agents of his will to use?

Hark! He answers!--Wild tornadoes
           Strewing yonder sea with wrecks,
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
           Are the voice with which he speaks.
He, foreseeing what vexations
           Afric's sons should undergo,
Fixed their tyrants' habitations
           Where his whirlwinds answer--"No."

By our blood in Afric wasted
           Ere our necks received the chain;
By the miseries that we tasted,
           Crossing in your barks the main;
By our sufferings, since ye brought us
           To the man-degrading mart,
All sustained by patience, taught us
           Only by a broken heart;

Deem our nation brutes no longer,
           Till some reason ye shall find
Worthier of regard and stronger
           Than the colour of our kind.
Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings
           Tarnish all your boasted powers,
Prove that you have human feelings,
           Ere you proudly question ours!

Buffalo Soldiers: The African-American Contribution to Guarding the Frontier

On July 25, 1992, a monument of a soldier on
horseback was dedicated at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas. This would not seem to be an unusual
event, except that the soldier was an African-
American who symbolized thousands of black
soldiers who suffered, fought and died for their
country. For the most part, the historical record
remains virtually blank in regard to the role played
by African-Americans in the settlement of the
western United States during the 19th century, and
this is especially true of the Buffalo Soldiers.

During the American Civil War, over 186,000
African-Americans volunteered to fight, not only
for the preservation of the Union, but also for
their rights as human beings. With the end of
the war in the spring of 1865, black troops were
included in the force of 50,000 soldiers sent to
Texas to reinforce a United States ultimatum to
France’s Napoleon III, demanding the withdrawal
of his forces from Mexico. Twenty-five African-
American regiments, including two of cavalry,
served in Texas following the war.
On July 28, 1866, Congress established a peacetime
army, drastically reducing the size of the force,
and abolishing all the African-American units
created during the Civil War. Four new cavalry
regiments were created, however, including two
“composed of colored men, having the same
organization as is now provided by law for cavalry
regiments.” Four new “colored” infantry units
were also created. The six new black units were
the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 38th, 39th, 40th
and 41st Infantry. (The infantry units were later
consolidated into the 24th and 25th Infantry
Regiments). Initial recruits were veterans of
Civil War units, as well as recently liberated
slaves. During and after the Civil War, African-
American regiments were composed entirely of
black troops, commanded exclusively by white
officers. According to the cultural bias of the day,
blacks were not educated or intelligent enough
to rise above the rank of sergeant. There were
three exceptions, however. In 1877, 2nd Lt. Henry
O. Flipper, the first African-American graduate
of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was
assigned to the 10th Cavalry. Although there were
several appointments of African-Americans to
West Point during the 19th century, just three
black cadets (Flipper, John H. Alexander, and
Charles Young) graduated, and all were assigned
to African-American units. There is evidence that
these officers, especially Flipper and Alexander,
were relieved of their duties due to trumped-up
charges; they were the victims of racial prejudice
at the hands of their fellow white officers.
Black troops who served in the West eventually
acquired the nickname “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Buffalo soldiers of the 25th Infantry, 
some wearing buffalo robes, Ft. Keogh, Montana

 Legend states that American Indians
who encountered African-Americans in the West
saw a similarity between the hair of the black
soldiers and that of the buffalo. Since the buffalo
was an important and revered animal to Native
Americans, the term was thought to express the
respect they held for the soldiers - who were
often their enemies. The four black regiments,
two infantry and two cavalry, remained in the
West until the Spanish-American War. During this
period, the U.S. Army consisted of just 10 cavalry
and 25 infantry regiments, meaning that one in
five cavalry soldiers and one in eight infantry
soldiers were black.
During their nearly three decades on the frontier,
Buffalo Soldiers served at some of the worst, most
isolated posts in America, performing their duties
under unusually difficult circumstances. The
Army often supplied inferior horses (often cast-
offs from white regiments), and substandard food.
Reality dictated that life at a frontier outpost was
lonely, especially because Buffalo Soldiers were
not always welcome in the towns neighboring
their posts. Off-duty time might be passed in
singing, accompanied by the mouth harp, card
playing, wagering on dice, reading or writing
letters home. Personal hygiene was also observed
during these hours. Soldiers of the 19th Century
were fond of tobacco and beer, which could be
purchased from the post sutler. Photos of loved
ones back home made the long years on the
frontier seem less solitary.
Soldiers of the 1860s to 90s were issued two
uniforms, one for dress and one for field use. The
dress uniform was worn for parades, inspections
and ceremonies. Uniforms, especially headgear,
were influenced by Prussian styles during most
of this era. While staying in a garrison or fort, a
soldier was expected to keep his uniform and
equipment in spotless condition. To improve
their status and earn promotion, soldiers studied
army manuals and handbooks, and practiced on
the shooting range. Post schools and libraries
offered many illiterate soldiers the opportunity
to learn to read and write. Each of the black units
was assigned a chaplain, whose duty was to look
after the moral health of the men and promote
literacy among them. Literacy also paved the road
to a possible promotion, for non-commissioned
officers were required to know how to read and
While on campaign, a soldier’s uniform and
equipment were modified for the extreme
conditions of the American West. Personal
possessions were carried in a haversack, and
included eating utensils, a mess tin, rations
including hardtack (hard bread), coffee and
salt pork, a tin cup, takedown tools for a rifle
or carbine, and a “housewife” (sewing kit).
Cavalry troopers carried their field equipment
on horseback, but infantrymen, called “walk-a-
heaps” by the plains Indians, carried their shelter
half, blanket and poncho wrapped in a horseshoe-
shaped blanket roll slung over their shoulders. In
addition, the foot soldier had to carry a rifle with
100 rounds of ammunition, a bulging haversack,
and a canteen full of water, adding up to about
50 pounds of equipment per man. Infantrymen
could be expected to carry these loads twenty to
thirty miles a day on a long campaign, which often
involved passing through burning deserts and
wind-swept plains, in the heat of summer and the
intense cold of winter.
Despite such hardships, black soldiers performed
splendidly. It is thought that more than 12,000
served during the late 19th century, most for
the five years of the average enlistment. They
garrisoned forts, protected settlers and railroad
crews, guarded mail and stage routes, built roads
and forts, strung telegraph lines, and generally
kept the peace. African-American troops fought
more than 125 engagements with American
Indian tribes; the expeditions against the Apache
leaders Victorio and Nana were conducted almost
exclusively by black troopers. They also fought
against Mexican outlaws and border desperadoes,
and helped to control bandits, cattle thieves, and
bootleggers in the sometimes lawless west. Their
re-enlistment rate was higher than average, and
measurably higher than their white counterparts
in other regiments. Eighteen African-Americans
were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor
for deeds of valor between 1866 and 1898, a very
high percentage representing a legacy of courage
and patriotism.
When war was declared with Spain in 1898, all
four of the African-American army units were
called eastward to fight in the Caribbean. When
the Rough Riders made their famous charge up
Kettle and San Juan Hills in Cuba, they were
assisted by elements of the 9th and 10th Cavalry,
whose contributions to the success of the charge

Filthy Funk - No Limit (live in the studio 2010) - The Haywire/FEVtv

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dick Gregory at State of Black Union 08 Pt.1

Don Cornelius, James Brown, Al Sharpton interview (1974).

R.I.P. Don. Thank you for the Love.

Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt I - II

Black History Month 2012
Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt I

Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt II

Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt III - IV

Black History Month 2012
Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt III
Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt IV

Lost Kingdoms Of Africa - Ethiopia pt V - VI

Black History Month 2012
Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt V
Lost Kingdoms of Africa - Ethiopia pt VI

Black History Documentary, Cuero, Texas, Daule Colored School, Segregation

The Nazi Olympics: African-American Athletes (Part 1)

Presented for Black History Month 2012

 Jesse Owens

Abbott & Sengstacke Family Papers - Black History Month

Power the Early Videos.flv

The History of American Blues - Black History Month


  Special for Black History Month 2012, from The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Oct., 1916)                                                                            

   The introduction of Negroes into Guatemala commenced with the year of the conquest of that country by the Spaniards in 1524, when there came several Negro slaves with the conquistadoresf rom Mexico. It seems that they soon increased in numbers, for among the decrees of the conquistador, Pedro de Alvarado, there is one which prohibits the selling of gunpowder to Indians and Negroes. The number of African slaves brought to Guatemala had, however, al-ways remained relatively a very limited one, for as the Spaniards had plenty of cheap hands by means of a system of indentured labor forced upon the numerous Indian population, the importation of slaves evidently did not pay them well. It seems safe to say, that their total number never amounted to ten thousand.
   The most copious, though still very sparse notices of them I have run across, are those given by Thomas Gage, an English Catholic educated in Spain, who, in the twenties and thirties of the seventeenth century, lived as a priest in the then city of Guatemala, nowadays called Antigua, and in some Indian villages not far from there.' One of the places where Thomas Gage observed a somewhat consid-erable population of Negroes was the so-called Costa del Sur, or Southern Coast, the hot land between the Andes and the Pacific, to the south of the capital. They were worked there on the indigo plantations and large cattle haciendas. The Negroes impressed Thomas Gage as the only courage-ous people in Guatemala while the Spanish Mestizos and Indians seemed to him to be very cowardly.
This writer said that if Guatemala was powerful with

1 Gage published in 1648 in London an account of his residence and voy-ages; I have only a French version of his work at hand, printed in Amsterdam, in 1721. The passages cited are re-translated from that language and, there-fore, will not agree word for word with the original text.


respect to its people, for she was not in arms nor resources, then she was so merely by virtue of a class of desperate Negroes, who were slaves living on the indigo plantations. Though they had no arms but a machete, which was their small lance used for chasing the wild cattle (nowadays, that name is given to a long and broad, sword-like knife), they were so desperate that they often caused fear to the very city of Guatemala and had made their masters tremble. "There are among them," said he, "those who have no fear to brave a wild bull, furious though he be, and to attach themselves to the crocodiles in the rivers, until they have killed them and brought them to the bank." 2
   In reading these lines, one cannot help from remember-ing the classical description Alexander Von Humboldt gives of the Negro boatmen of the river Dagua, in the actual republic of Colombia. The inimitable skill and unsurpass-able bravery Humboldt saw them display in the midst of the ferocious currents and loud-pouring rapids of that river caused him to exclaim: "Every movement of the paddle is a wonder, and every Negro a god!" A nice monument to the fame of indomitable bravery the Negroes manifested in past times in Guatemala exists still in a saying often heard by travelers: "Esos son negros!" "Those are Negroes," an exclamation which means: "Those are desperate men, who do not care for anything." One could also hear the saying: "Esto es obra de negros," or "that is a work of Negroes," the meaning being that it was work for bold men with iron nerves.
   Another expression brings out the fact that the Negroes were considered, or forced to be, very hard workers. " Trabaja como un negro," or "he works like a Negro," signified doing "the most arduous labor." That the lot of the slaves was often a bitter one, though, because of the less greedy Spanish character, without doubt generally a less hard one than in North America, is shown by the fact that Guatemala had her "Cimarrones" just as Jamaica, and Guiana, had their Maroons.

2 Gage's "Voyages," Part 3, Chapter II.


   The Spanish word "cimarron" signifies indiscriminately a runaway head of cattle or horses, that had become wild, or a runaway slave. The fugitive Negroes of Guatemala had their chief stronghold in the inaccessible mountain woods of the Sierra de las Minas, which lies near the Atlantic coast between the Golfo Dulce and the valley of the river Motagua. The Golfo Dulce, which is now abandoned be-cause of lack of sufficient depth for the big vessels of today, was at that time the port of entry for the whole of Guatemala. From it a bridle-path ran over the Sierra de las Minas to the valley of the Motagua and further on to the capital. In speaking of this path over the mountain, Gage remarks: "What the Spaniards fear most until they get out of these mountains, are two or three hundred Negroes, Cimarrones, who for the bad treatment they received have fled from Guatemala and from other places, running away from their masters in order to resort to these woods; there they live with their wives and children and increase in numbers every year, so that the entire force of Guatemala City and its environments is not capable to subdue them."
    They very often came out of the woods to attack those who drove teams of mules, and took from them wine, salt, clothes and arms to the quantity they needed. They never did any harm to the mule drivers nor to their slaves. On the contrary, the slaves amused themselves with the Cimar-rones, because they were of the same color and in the same condition of servitude, and not seldom availed themselves of the opportunity to follow their example, and united with them to obtain liberty, though obliged to live in the woods and mountains.
    Their arms were arrows and bows, which they carried only for the purpose of defending themselves against attacks of the Spaniards; for they did not harm those who passed by peacefully and who let them have a part of the provisions they carried. They often declared that their principal reason for resorting to these mountains was to be ready to join the English or Dutch, if these some day ap-peared in the Gulf, for they well knew that these, unlike the Spaniards, would let them live in peace.


    Among the most remarkable facts learned by Thomas Gage in Guatemala is the story of a Negro freedman who had accumulated great wealth. This Negro lived in Agua Caliente, an Indian village, on the road to Guatemala City, or Antigua, where the natives had obtained considerable quantities of gold from some spot in the mountains only known to them. The Spaniards, not content with an annual tribute paid them by the Indians, endeavored in vain to force the natives to show them the mine, and because they refused killed them, thus gaining no knowledge of the mine for which they were still searching in vain in the times of Thomas Gage. "In that place of Agua Caliente," continues Gage, "there is a Negro who lives and receives very well the travelers who call upon him. His wealth consists in cattle, sheep, and goats, and he furnishes the city of Guatemala and the environments with the best cheese to be found in the country. But it is believed that his wealth does not come so much from the produce of his farm and his cattle and cheese, but from that hidden treasure which is believed known to him. He, therefore, has been summoned to the Royal Audi-ence in Guatemala, but he has always denied to have any knowledge of it."
    He had been suspected because he had formerly been a slave and had secured his liberty by means of a considerable sum. After that, he had bought his farm and much of the surrounding land and had considerably increased his original holdings. To his inquisitors he replied that, "when young and still a slave he had a kind master who suffered him to do what he pleased, and that by economy he had ac-cumulated where-with to buy his liberty and afterwards a little house to live in; and God had given His blessing to that and let him have the means for increasing his funds."
    Another one of Gage's accounts discloses the abuses common among the slave-holders under Spanish rule, and the silliness of the belief that the masters for their own benefit would treat their human property well. This account refers to one Juan Palomeque, a rich landowner and promoter of mule-transports, who lived in Gage's parish of Mexico, near the actual capital of Guatemala.


    He was believed to be worth six hundred thousand ducats, about 1,400,000 dollars. He owned about a hundred Ne-groes, men, women, and children, but was so stingy that, to avoid the expense of decent house-keeping, he never lived in the city, though he had several houses there. Instead, he lived in a straw-hut and feasted on hard, black bread and on tasajo, or thin strips of salt beef dried in the sun.
    He was so cruel to his Negroes, that, when one of them behaved badly, he would whip him almost to death. He had among others a slave named Macaco, "on behalf of whom," said Gage, " I often pleaded, but in vain. At times he hung him by the hands and beat him until he had his back entirely covered with blood, and in that state, the skin being entirely torn to pieces, in order to heal up the slave's sores the master poured hot fat over them. Moreover, he had marked him with a hot iron face, hands, arms, back, belly, and legs, so that this poor slave got tired to live and intended several times to suicide himself; but I prevented him from doing so every time by remonstrances I made him."
     Juan Palomeque was so sensual and voluptuous that he constantly abused the wives of his slaves as he liked, and even when he saw in the city some girl or woman of that class whom he wanted, and she was not attracted to him, he would call upon her master or mistress and buy her, "giving much more than she had cost; afterwards he boasted that he would break down her pride in one year of slavery." "In my times," said Gage, "he killed two Indians on the road to the Gulf, but by means of his money he got so easily out of that affair as if he had killed but a dog." As Gage does not tell anything of a prosecution for the crimes against the Negro, no actual law seems to have been violated.3
    The descendants of the ancient slaves have so completely

3It seems proper to add here, that three years after Guatemala had de-clared her independence of Spain, she abrogated slavery by decree of April 17, 1824. Thereby she got, by the way, into difficulties with Great Britain, which as late as in 1840 demanded the extradition of slaves run away from the adjacent British territory of Balize. Guatemala was by men-of-war sent to her coast forced to do so, though that was contrary to her constitution.


become mixed up with Spanish-Indian blood that, making exception of the valley of the Motagua River, they have practically disappeared as a race. In 1796, their number was considerably increased by the so-called Caribs, whom the English deported from the Island of St. Vincent and set ashore in Guatemala. They live now on the Atlantic coast, also on that of Honduras and Nicaragua, and are estimated to total about 20,000. They are Zambos, but the African blood seems to prevail.4


When on his return voyage to England, sailing down the Atlantic coast of Costa Rica, Thomas Gage's ship was intercepted by two corsairs under the Dutch flag, one of them being a man-of-war. The struggle of the Netherlands for freedom against Spain had not then come to a close. The Dutch commander was a character, of whose strange experiences Gage gives an interesting account. Much to the surprise of the traveler the captain who had caught them was a mulatto named Diaguillo, who was born and brought up at Habana (Cuba), where his mother was still living. Having been maltreated by the Governor of Campeche in whose service he had been, this mulatto in a fit of utter desperation threw himself into a boat and ventured into the sea, where he met with some Dutch ships on watch for a prize. He swam to and went aboard one of these vessels, hoping to find better treatment than among his country-men. He offered himself to the Dutch and promised to serve them loyally against those of his nation who had maltreated him. Afterwards he proved himself so loyal and reliable to the Dutch, that he won much fame among them. He was married to a girl of their nation and later made captain of a vessel under that brave and noble Dutchman, whom the Spaniards dreaded much and whom they named Pie de Palo, or Wooden-leg.

    4 Within the last decades, some Negroes have been brought over, from the United States, to the banana plantations of United Fruit Co., near the Atlantic coast, and occasionally, though very seldom, one meets with a black newcomer from Jamaica, Barbadoes, or other West Indian islands.


"That famous mulatto," said Gage, "was he who boarded our frigate with his soldiers. I lost four thousand pesos wealth in pearls and jewelry and about three thou-sand in ready money. I had still other things with me, viz., a bed, some books, pictures painted on copper, and clothes, and I asked that Mulatto captain to let me keep them. He donated me them liberally, out of consideration for my vocation, and said I must take patience, for he was not allowed to dispose in other way of my pearls and my money; moreover, he used the proverb: If fortune to-day is on my side, to-morrow it will be on yours, and what I have won to-day, that I may lose to-morrow. . . He also ordered to give me back some single and double pistoles, out of generosity and respect to my garb. . . . "
"After having searched their prize," continued the traveler, "Captain and soldiers thought of refreshing them-selves on the provisions we had on board; the generous captain had a luxurious dinner and invited me to be his guest, and knowing that I was going to Habana, he drank the health of his mother and asked me to go to see her and give her his kindest regards, saying that for her sake he had treated me as kindly as was in his power. He told us, moreover, when still at table, that for my sake he would give us back our ship, so that we could get back to land, and that I might find some other and safer way to continue my voyage to Spain. . . . Everything taken away from the ship save my belongings, which captain Diaguillo ordered to let me out of a generosity not often to be found with a corsair, he bade us fare-well thanking us for the good luck we had procured him."
Thomas Gage reached Habana in safety and called upon the mother of the Corsair, but does not say how he found her.
This article is courtesy of jstor:

Notes on Negroes in Guatemala During the Seventeenth CenturyAuthor(s): J. KunstReviewed work(s):Source: The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Oct., 1916), pp. 392-398Published by: Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.Stable URL: .

The Garifuna of Guatemala see the following video for an update on these people. 

Oprah's South Africa academy graduates its first class

Oprah's gals Graduate

  Black History Month 2012 is here and there's nothing like a tale of Black History in the making to start the ball rolling. In the future the story of this first graduating class will truly be an historical event to remember. I wonder what will be the result of this memorable event in twenty or thirty years? I wonder what effect this will have on my children or grandchildren? Will this inspire others to take similar steps? Will the young women that benefited from miss Winfrey's generous act, pay it forward and make use of their education for the betterment of their country or the continent?
   I'm sure that this is just the beginning of a new era of cooperation among the peoples of Africa throughout the world, may it continue full throttle with the blessing of The Almighty.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Buxton Settlement in Canada Oct. 1918

This article fits right in the 2012 theme - Making Community Engagement a Priority - check it out.

                                                                                      Black History Month 2012 Canada
                                           from The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Oct., 1918)

The Buxton Settlement in Canada


    The Buxtoll, or Elgin Association Settlement, in Kent county, western Ontario, was in many respects the most important attempt made before the Civil War to found a Negro refugee colony in Canada. In population, material wealth and general organization it was outstanding, and the firm founidationi upon which it was established is shown by the fact that today, more than half a century after emancipation, it is still a prosperous and distinctly Negro settlement.
    The western peninsula of Ontario, lying between Lakes Hfuron aild Erie, was long the Mecca of the fugitive slave. Bounded on the east by the State of New York, on the west by Michigan, and on the south by Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, this was the part of Canada most easily reached by the fugitive; and Niagara, Cleveland, Detroit and other lake ports saw thousands of refugees cross narrow strips of water to "shake the lion's paw'" and find freedom in the British queen's dominiions. During the forties anid fifties there was a constant stream of refugees into Canada. As many as thirty in a day would cross the Detroit Rliver at Fort Malden alone. Many of these went to the cities and towns, but others found greater happiness in the separate Negro communities which grew up here and there.
    The history of the Buxton settlement, one of these, is closely linked with the name of Rev. William King. King was a native of Londonderry, Ireland, a graduate of Glasgow College, who had emigrated to the United States and become rector of a college in Louisiana. Later he returned to Scotland, studied theology in the Free Church College, Edinburgh, and in 1846 was sent out to Canada as a missionary of the Free Church of Scotland. While he was living in Louisiana he became, through marriage, the owner


of fifteen slaves of an estimated value of $9,000. For a time he placed them on a neighboring plantation and gave them the proceeds of their labor but that did not satisfy his conscience and in 1848 he brought them to Canada, thereby automatically giving them their freedom. His effort on their behalf did not end here. Having brought them to this new country, he felt it a duty to look after them, to educate and make of them useful citizens. The same thing, he be- lieved, could be done for others in like circumstance.
    The first effort to secure a tract of land for the refugees was made by the Rev. Mr. King as the representative of the Presbyterian Church. This application was before the Ex- ecutive Council of the Canadian Government in September, 1848, but was not successful. Steps were at once taken to organize a non-sectarian body to deal with the government and this new body took the name of the Elgin Association in honor of the then governor-general of the Canadas who seems to have been well disposed toward the refugees. The Elgin Association was legally incorporated "for the settlement and moral improvement of the colored popula- tion of Canada, for the purpose of purchasing crown or clergy reserve lands in the township of Raleigh and settling the same with colored families resident in Canada of approved moral character."1 Rev. Dr. Connor was the first president; Rev. Dr. Willis, of Knox College, Toronto, first vice-president, and Rev. William King, second vice-presi- denit. J. T. Matthews was the secretary, J. S. Howard, treasurer, while the original directors were E. A. T. Mc- Cord, Walter McFarland, Peter Freland, Charles Bercsy, W. R. Abbott, John Laidlaw, E. F. Whittesend and James Brown. These are the names that appear upon the petition to the government for lands, the original of which is in the Dominion Archives.
    There were difficulties in securing the land. Decided opposition to the whole project made itself manifest in Kent county.2 In Chatham, the county town, a meeting of pro-
1 Drew, A North-Side View of SMavery, 1856, p. 292.
2 Documents in Canadian Archives Department.


test was held. The plans of the Elgin Association were condemned and a resolution was passed setting forth objections to selling any of the public domain "to foreigners, the more so when such persons belong to a different branch of tlle human family and are black." A vigilance committee was appointed to watch the operationls of the Elgin Associatiion while the various township councils interested were requested to advance the necessary funds for carryiing on the campaign. That there was some dissent, however, even in Chatliam is shoow-n by the fact that one Henry Gouins was allowed to speak in favor of the Association. The vigilance committee soon issued a small pamphlet, made up chiefly of the speeclhes and resolutions of the public meeting. The name of Edwiin Larwill, member of Par- liament for the county of Kent, appears as one of those most active in opposition to the settlement plan. Larwill had a record for hostility to the colored people though at election times he was accustomed to parade as their friend. In 1856 he introduced in the House of Assembly a most insulting resolution3 calling for a report from the governiment on "all negro or colored, male or female quadroon, mulatto, samboes, half breeds or mules, mongrels or conglomerates" in public institutions. Larwill was at once called to account for his action and a resolution was intro- duced calling upon him to retract.
     The opposition of Larwill and his supporters failed to impede the progress of the Association and a tract of about 9000 acres, lying to the south of Chatham and within a mile or two of Lake Erie, was purchased. This was surveyed and divided into small farms of fifty acres each, roads were cut through the dense forest and the first settlers began the arduous work of clearing. The colonists were allowed to take up fifty acres each at a price of $2.50 per acre, payable in ten annual instalments.4 Each settler was bound withini a certain period to build a house at least as good as the model house set up bv the Association, to provide himself

3 Toronto Weekly Globe, January 1, 1858.
4 Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, 1856, pp. 292-293.


with necessary implements and to proceed with the work of clearing land. The model house after which nearly all the dwellings were copied was 18 by 24 feet, 12 feet in height and with a stoop running the length of the front. Some of the settlers were ambitious enough to build larger and bet- ter houses but there were none inferior to the model. The tract of country upon which the settlers were located was an almost unbroken forest. The ground was level, heavily timbered with oak, hickory, beech, elm, etc. Part of the soil was a deep rich black loam. Trees two to four feet in diameter were common and the roads cut through to open up settlement were hardly more than wide lanes. Rev. Mr. King thought that one reason for the colony's success was the fact that so many of the settlers were good axe men. Their industry was remarkable and some of the more in- dustrious paid for their land in five or six years and took up more to clear.5

    5 The slaves who had been freed by Mr. King formed the nucleus of the colony but others came as soon as the land was thrown open. The advances made by this colony during the first years of its existence were remarkable. The third annual report for the year 1852, showed a population of 75 families or 400 inhabitants, with 350 acres of land cleared and 204 acres under cultivation. A year later, the fourth annual report showed 130 families or 520 persons, with 500 acres of land cleared and 135 partially cleared, 415 acres being under cultivation in 1853. The live stock was given as 128 cattle, 15 horses, 30 sheep and 250 hogs. The day school had 112 children enrolled and the Sabbath School 80.
The fifth report, for the year 1854, showed 150 families in the colony or immediately adjoining it, 726 acres of land cleared, 174 acres partially cleared aind 577 acres under cultivation. In the year there had been an increase of cleared land amounting to 226 acres andl of land under cultivation of 162 acres. The livestock consisted of 150 cattle and oxen, 38 horses, 25 sheep and 700 hogs. The day school had 147 on the roll and the Sabbath School 120. A second day school was opened that year.
The sixth annual report (1855) shows 827 acres of land cleared and fenced and 216 acres chopped and to go under cultivation in 1856. There were 810 acres cultivated that year while the live stock consisted of 190 cattle and oxen, 40 horses, 38 sheep and 600 hogs. The day school had an enrollment of 150. Among the advances of this year was the erection of a saw and grist mill which supplied the colony with lumber and with flour and feed. The building of the saw mill meant added prosperity, for an estimate made in 1854 placed the value of the standing timber at $127,000. A representative of the New York Tribune visited the colony in 1857 and


     There are several contemporary references to the sobriety and morality of the colonists. The New York Tribune correspondent in 1857 was able to report that liquor was neither made nor sold in the colony and that drunkenness was unknown. There was no illegitimacy and there had been but one arest for violation of the Canadian laws in the seven years of the colony's history. Though the Presbyterian church gave special attention to the Buxton colony this did not hinder the growth of other sects, Methodists and Baptists both being numerous, though the best of feeling seems to have prevailed and many who retaimed their owni connectioni were faairly regular attendants at Mr. King's services.
    The Tribune artiele gives an interesting description of the homes. The cabins, though rotugh and rude, were covered with vines and creepers witlh bright flowers and vege- table gardens round about. Despite the pioneer conditions there abounded comfort and plenty of plain homemade furniture. Pork, potatoes anid green corn were staple items of the menu. Of King's former slaves the Tribune reports that three had died, nine were at Buxton, one was married and living in Chatham and two others in Detroit were about to return. The Tribune reports on one case as typical of what was being achieved by the coloniy. A colored man, fourteen years before a slave in Missouri and who had been at Bux-

his description of what he saw was reprinted in the Toronto Globe of November 20, 1857. The colony was then seven years old and had a population of about 200 families or 800 souls. More than 1,000 acres had been completely cleared while on 200 acres more the trees had been felled and the land would be put under cultivation the next spring. The acreage under cultivation in the season of 1857 he gives as follows: corn, 354 acres; wheat, 200 acres; oats, 70 acres; potatoes, 80 acres; other crops, 120 acres. The live stock consisted of 200 cows, 80 oxen, 300 hogs, 52 horses and a small number of sheep. The in- dustries included a steam sawmill, a brickyard, pearl ash factory, blacksmith, carpenter and shoe shops as well as a good general store. There were two sehools, one male and one female. The latter, which had been open only about a year, taught plain sewing and other domestic subjects. The two schools had a combined enrollment of 140 with average attendance of 58. It was being proposed to require a small payment in order to make the schools self-support- ing. The Sabbath school had an enrollment of 112 and an average attend- ance of 52.-Drew, A North-Side View of Slavery, pp. 293-297.


ton six years, reported that he had 24 acres out of his plot cleared, fenced and under cult'ivation. On six acres more the trees were felled. He had paid four installments on his farm, owned a yoke of oxen, a wagon and a mare and two colts. His fourteen-year-old boy was at school and was reading VTirgil. In the home, besides bed and bedding, chairs and tables, there was a rocking chair and a large, new safe. Water was brought to the visitor in a clean tumbler, set upon a plate. A neighboring cabim had carpet on the floor and some crude prints on the walls. All the cabins had large brick fireplaces. Rev. Mr. King's own house, built of logs with high steep roof, dormer windows and a porch the whole length, was somewhat larger than the others.6
    What these people actually accomplished at Buxton amid conditions so different from what they had known in the past is altogether remarkable. Some had known little of farm work before coming to the colony while all of them must have found the Canadian climate something of a hard- ship even in the summer. Outside of the farm work they showed ability as mechanics and tradesmen. One who visited them i the fiftes says :
    "The best country tavern in Kent is kept by Mr. West, at Buxton. Mr. T. Stringer is one of the most enterprising tradesmen in the county, and he is a Buxtonian, a colored man. I broke my carriage near there. The woodwork, as well as the iron, was broken. I never had better repairing done to either the wood- work or the ironwork of my carriage, I never had better shoeing than was done to my horses, in Buxton, in Feb., 1852, by a black man, a native of Kentucky-in a word, the work was done after the pattern of Charles Peyton Lucas. They are blessed with able mechanics, good farmers, enterprising men, and women worthy of them and they are training the rising generation to principles such as will give them the best places in the esteem and the service of their countrymen at some day not far distant."
     A few years sufficed to remove most of the prejudice

6 The New York Tribune.
7 Ward, Au&tobiography of a Fugitive Negro, 1855, p. 214.


that had shown itself in the opposition of the Larwill faction at Chatham at the inception of the colony. When Rev. S. R. Ward visited the colony in the early fifties he found that instead of lowering land values of adjoining property as some had predicted would result from establishing a Negro colony in Kent county, the Buxton settlement had actually raised the value of adjoining farms. The Buxton settlers were spoken of by the white people as good farmers, good customers and good neighbors. 'There were white children attending the Buxton school and white people in their Sunday church services.
      Perhaps no finer testimony to the success of the whole undertaking is recorded than that of Dr. Samuel R. Howe who came to Canada for the Freedmen's Inquiry Committee.

    "Buxton is certainly a very interesting place," he wrote. "Sixteen years ago it was a wilderness. Now, good highways are laid out in all direotions through the forest, and by their side, standing back 33 feet from the road, are about 200 cottages, all built in the same pattern, all looking neat and comfortable; around each one is a cleared place of several acres which is well cultivated. The fences are in good order, the barns seem well filled, and cattle and horses, and pigs and poultry, abound. There are signs of industry and thrift and comfort everywhere; signs of intemperance, of idleness, of want nowhere. There is no tavern and no groggery; but there is a chapel and a schoolhouse. Most interest- ing of all are the inhabitants. Twenty years ago most of them were slaves, who owned nothing, not even their children. Now they own themselves; they own their houses and farms; and they have their wives and children about them. They are enfranchised citizens of a government which protects their rights... . The present condition of all these colonists as compared with their former one is remarkable. ... This settlement is a perfect succes. Here are men who were bred in slavery, who came here and purchased land at the government price, cleared it, bought their own implements, built their own houses after a model and have supported themselves in all material circumstances and now support their schools in part.... I consider that this settlement has done as well as a white settlement would have done under the same circumstances. '' 8


The Buxton settlement had its part in the John Brown affair. A letter written bv John Brown, Jr., from Sandusky, Ohio, August 97, 1859, and addressed to "Friend Henrie," (Kagi), speaks of men in Hamilton, Chatham, Buxton, etc., suitable for the enterprise.

    "At Dr. W's house (presumably in Ilamilton) we formed an association," he says, "the officers consisting of chairman, treas- urer and corresponding secretary, the business of which is to hunt up good workmnen and raise the means among themselves to send them forward. . . . No minutes of the organization nor any of its proceedings are or will be preserved in writing. I formed sim- ilar associations in Chat-and also at B-x-t-n. "

        John Brown, Jr., also speaks of going to Buxton where he found "the man, the leading spirit in that affair."

   "On Thursday night last" said he, "I went with him on foot 12 miiles; much of the way through mere paths and sought out in the bush some of the choicest. Had a meeting after ten o'clock at night in his house. His wife is a heroine and he will be on hand as soon as his family can be provided for. "9

     Such is the earlier history of the experiment in Canada of taking bondmeni and placing before them the opportunity not alone to make a living in freedom but also to rise in the social scale. How well these people took ad- vantage of their opportunity is shown not only by the material progress they made but by the fact that they gained for themselves the respect of their white neighbors, a respect that conitinues today for their many descendants wvho still comprise the Buxton communitv in Kent county, Ontario.

                                                                                                                        FRED LANDON 
8 Howe, Refugees from Slavery in Canada West, 1864, pp. 70-71.
9 Toronto Weekly Globe, November 4, 1859.

 Source: The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 3, No. 4 (Oct., 1918), pp. 360-367Published by: Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.Stable URL: .

The Buxton saga doesn't end with this story. Watch the following videos to get an idea of the legacy that was left by these courageous people.

Underground Railroad - Buxton School

Also see

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chuck Brown: Oral History Video Clips and Biography

Chuck Brown: Oral History Video Clips and Biography: NVLP Oral History Archive

I tried to listen to part of this interview just to get a feel of how it would go and ended up not being able to stop it. If you don't have more self control than I, then you'd better set aside a time when you can sit back and devote your full attention to this captivating interview with Chuck Brown. I'm going to be sure to check out the National Visionary Leadership Program for more of this fascinating material.