This history celebrates the richness of African American culture in the area known as the St. Joseph River Valley Region by highlighting historic places. These historic places remind us of the contributions made by African Americans to our community. Many buildings relating to African American history no longer exist.
Yet, information about these places lives on through historic records, photographs and newspaper articles. Another resource for learning about the people who built the buildings and African American community is through stories their families share with us. The Huggart Settlement. Although many early records have been lost or are incomplete, it is known that African Americans were among the early residents of St. Joseph County. They, like their neighbors, were often farmers or small business owners. Many of them were free Blacks and not fugitive slaves.
Historical records indicate that African Americans settled in St. The U. Joseph County, just south of South Bend. Other Black families followed them and settled nearby, creating what is thought to be the first rural Black settlement in northern Indiana. This part of Union Township was settled by both White and Black families who shared in the life of the community. They farmed, worshiped, attended school and socialized together.
He applied for land in Union Township on September 11, Several years later he settled there with his family. Bass also purchased land in other parts of St. Other Black families arrived during the s and s and purchased land in this same square mile.
The Black population grew to include 28 individuals. The families were members of the Olive Branch Church, whose members were associated with the Quakers. The Quakers did not believe in the practice of slavery.
Historical records show that members of this settlement were actively involved in their community. One served as a church trustee and others were charter members of the Porter-Rea Cemetery Association. The settlement began with Samuel Huggart and was located within a mile radius of two known Underground Railroad stations, one of which was operated by Solomon Palmer, St. An abolitionist was a person who worked to end slavery.
Palmer had a mill in the middle of a forest about 10 miles south of South Bend. Runaway slaves came to his mill to hide as they journeyed north. InHardy Manual purchased land from Mr. Bass and built a log cabin home that still stands in Union Township.
Search for single white women in south bend, indiana. thousands of active white girls are looking to date someone like you
Prior to moving to the rural settlement, Mr. Manual was a carpenter in South Bend. The graves of many of the early Black settlers in St. This cemetery was the final resting place for many neighborhood families, both Black and White. Today, the cemetery lies within the boundaries of Potato Creek State Park. In the s, farm land around the cemetery was purchased by the State of Indiana for this recreation area.
Local african american history
The cemetery today remains under the control of the Porter-Rea Cemetery Association which was formed in by both Black and White families who lived in the area. Many burials pre-date the formation of the Association. Black settlement members and their descendants known to be buried at Porter-Rea Cemetery include: A. Boon, Rachel Boone, William H.
Huggart, Infant Huggart and Dila Bass.
The Huggart settlement began to dwindle in the s as families moved into South Bend, where they found employment in the growing collection of industries. Free Blacks and the Underground Railroad. The first Black settlers known to have lived in South Bend arrived in They were Peter Coleman and Mariah White.
Coleman was a farrier, or horse doctor, from Virginia. They were married in South Bend in June Other Blacks who lived in this area in included Joseph Huffman, a barber, and four individuals living in White households. Froman important court battle took place in the St. Joseph County courts. It concerned fugitive slaves who were helped by local citizens.
This court case, which became known as the Fugitive Slave Case, was a legal battle over the right of a slave owner to take his runaway slaves back to Kentucky.
St. joseph county
The slaves had followed the Underground Railroad from Kentucky, across the Ohio River into Indiana, and north to Cass County, Michigan, where they were living as farmers. The owner located the family and recaptured them. As they were traveling through South Bend, on their way back to Kentucky, local citizens came to their rescue and blocked their return to slavery. The owner brought a court case against the local citizens. He won the case. However, in place of his slaves, he was awarded money equal to their value.
The Underground Railroad. In the s and s, many area citizens, both Black and White, were secretly involved in helping fugitive slaves escape from the South. This complex system was referred to as the Underground Railroad. It was not an actual railroad, but a secret network of people willing to risk legal action and the possible loss of their own property to help slaves gain freedom.
Residents of St. Due to the necessary secrecy of the Underground Railroad, many of the stations and their conductors will never be known. Most notable among local Underground Railroad conductors was James Washington, a well-known and well-respected free Black in South Bend.
Washington, a barber, and another barber, Mr. Sawyer, collected money from local citizens to fund the Underground Railroad. Reminiscences by Charles Bartlett, the son of Mr. Joseph Bartlett, tells of runaways hiding in the family store in the s. Joseph Bartlett lived at W. Washington Street. The women of Mrs. Most runaway slaves did not stay in St. Joseph County, because Indiana courts upheld fugitive slave laws and fined abolitionists who were caught helping runaways.
These slaves were usually returned to the slave owner. With the assistance of local Quakers and others who were agents or conductors on the Underground Railroad, slaves made their way north to Michigan and on to Canada where freedom awaited. There were many Quakers living in Cass County, Michigan, who helped the runaways and free Blacks establish new lives.
With the support of the Quaker community, former slaves became farmers or small business owners. It was established in the late s. Here, people worshiped freely and celebrated their freedom. A walk through the cemetery at Chain Lake Baptist Church reminds us of the many African American families that have lived in this area for many generations. There is a historical marker at Chain Lake Baptist Church that tells of the role the African American church in the antislavery movement.
Inthere were an estimated runaway slaves in Cass County, mostly in Penn and Calvin Townships. In the U. Census for Cass County listed free Blacks living there. This Black community is still in existence today. This beautiful lake property was originally owned by the Bonine family, who had actively supported the needs of local African American families for generations. Known throughout Michigan, Indiana and Illinois as a summer resort, the Paradise Lake community grew out of the desire for recreational facilities for the Black community, who were commonly excluded from enjoying White-owned businesses and public places.
Local churches often baptized their members in Paradise Lake. At the height of African American settlement in Cass County, the area offered the Gray Hotel, dining establishments, tennis courts, boating, swimming, horseback riding and other leisure activities.