Search Results for buxton

The Buxton Liberty Bell

1850 from the Coloured Inhabitants of Pittsburgh to Rev. William King and the Coloured Settlers at Raleigh, Canada West – Presently hanging in the steeple of St Andrews Church, South Buxton.

The Bell rang out each time a fugitive reached safety in Buxton.

Raleigh, Canada.West. Dec., 1850

To the Coloured Inhabitants of Pittsburgh

Dear Brethren: –

We have received your letter dated the 23rd Nov., and the bell presented to the Rev. W. King for the Academy at Raleigh. We are delighted at all times to hear from the friends that we have left in a land of pretended freedom, and although separated in body, we are present with you in spirit; and we fondly hope that our prayers often meet before the throne of God for mutual blessings. We will endeavour to observe and practice the advice which you have kindly given us, by loving and serving God and obeying the laws of our Sovereign. We will not cease to implore the Divine Blessing on that Government which has given us liberty not only in name, but in reality. The Bell has been raised to the place erected for it, and for the first time the silence of our forest was broken on last Sabbath morn, by its joyful peals inviting us to the house of God. We would return to you our sincere thanks for this memorial of your kindness, and we trust that while its cheerful peal invites us to the house of prayer, we will then remember our brethren who are in less favourable circumstances; and our constant prayer will be that the Bible, the gift of God to man, may no longer be withheld from you by the unrighteous acts of professed Christian legislators; that the power of the oppressor may be broken, and that those who have long been held in bondage may be set free.

Signed by

Isaac Riley

William A. Jackson

On behalf of the Coloured Inhabitants of Raleigh.

Buxton Baptist Church

Information compiled by Shannon Prince & Margo Freeman

First Buxton Baptist Church circa 1950

Interior of Buxton Baptist Church
(circa 1950)


Buxton church (outside)

Sometime prior to the year 1840, a small number of Baptists settled in different parts of Raleigh Township, Kent County, Ontario. Wherever there were two or three Christian families in a settlement, they would hold house-to-house prayer meetings. These services resulted in the organization of a church about the year 1850, meeting from house to, house, as they did in the days of St. Paul.

As settlers increased their numbers, a church was erected at Concession 11 on the Talbot Road, now commonly called the Middle Road. This church was erected on a plot of ground sold to them for a nominal sum of five shillings by Mr. and Mrs. *George Hatter. The trustees were Alfred West, William H. Jackson, and Isaac Washington. Some of its deacons were George Hatter, Willis Hosey, and Joseph Burqes. Other charter members were Mrs. George Hatter, Mr. Jno Carter, and Mrs. Ellen Hosey.

This church was known as the South Buxton, or First Baptist Church, as Buxton was a tract of land consisting of 9,000 acres, extending north and south from Gore A (or the 7th Concession as we call it) to Lake Erie, and a blind line from east to west. Elder Lacy was perhaps the first pastor of this church. He carried on revival meetings and many newborn souls were gathered in the church.


George Walter Hatter is our GreatGrand Uncle

Remembering the Emmanuel Family


Joyceann Gray


A Town of New Beginnings and Lasting Legacies
Their point was not to establish a generational farming community but to establish a base for their children and future generations as well as excel in whatever field they chose.  And they had the audacity to think they could.

We remember the Emanuel family today, warm, loving and hard working. From Gary County came the Emanuels to Canada, and then migrating back to the states and Nebraska.   Joshua Emanuel the second son of Samuel and Sarah was a dynamic intelligent individual who, along with John Kersey, and John Travis, designed and built the Bethel Methodist Church in Buxton, Canada. In coming to Nebraska, he brought experience and skill with a good business head. The various buildings would later demonstrate this skill as he designed and help to build in Dawson and again in DeWitty-Audacious. He married Lucinda Travis and they had seven children together. After her passing, l he married Ida Delienay and they had two children together.  Sadly, Joshua would pass at the young age of 52 and would not live to see how fine his children and future generations turned out. One particular descendant is James Andrew Emanuel born on June 15, 1921, in Alliance, Neb. His father, Alfred, died when he was young. His mother, Cora, was a schoolteacher and a driving force in his life. James became a renown poet, educator, and critic who published more than a dozen volumes of his poetry, much of it after his frustration with racism in the United States which helped motivate him to move to France. James received his higher education at Howard University in 1950 and received his master’s from Northwestern in 1953. He earned his doctorate in English and comparative literature from Columbia while he was teaching at City College.

Jamesemanuel-obit-articleLarge became the epitome of what each of the homesteaders of DeWitty-Audacious wanted for their children. You can find James A Emanuel papers at the Library of Congress

For more on James’ life achievements:

Thanks to all who have sent checks to help in celebrating the homesteaders of DeWitty-Audacious and their legacy by donating to our Historical Marker fund: the most successful rural African-American community in the state.   If you haven’t done so, you can send a contribution to:     Security First Bank

PO Box 480       Valentine, Nebraska 69201

Make checks payable to: “DeWitty Historical Marker Fund.”

The family of Joshua and Mary Emanuel FB_IMG_1434282658075
Names:  Joshua and Mary A. Emanuel and their children – Top row – Alfred baby daughter Julia and his wife Cora – Wilbert, John, Mary, Jennie, Lawrence, Grace, Joshua (dad), Hattie, Mary Ann (mom), baby Elza (in mom’s lap), – Frank, Carl, Nellie & Dewey Emanuel’s 1913

Nebraska Historical Marker In Rememberance Of Our Ancestors Dreams and Hopes

Friday June 19, 2015.

We’re still at it and need your help!

Group Raising Funds for Nebraska Historical Marker on Highway 83

 Northloup, NE
Spot near North Loup River on Hwy 83 in where the marker may be placed.

Descendants of a legendary Sand Hills settlement, the Cherry County Historical Society and a Nebraska-born author are teaming up to have a historical marker placed along Highway 83.

The Nebraska State Historical Society recently approved a roadside historical marker for DeWitty, the longest lasting, most successful African-American rural settlement in Nebraska.

DeWitty — in later years called Audacious — was first settled in the early 1900s by a group of homesteaders along the North Loup River in Cherry County, just west of present-day Brownlee. They were taking advantage of the Kinkaid Act of 1904, which allowed settlers to claim 640 acres of land, or one square mile, in the 37 counties that comprised the Sand Hills.

Now that the marker has been approved, the group is trying to raise the $5,100 the state historical society requires as payment.

Donations can be mailed to or dropped off at or mailed to:

Security First Bank

PO Box 480

Valentine, Nebraska 69201

Make checks payable to: “DeWitty Historical Marker Fund.”

The first group of DeWitty settlers came from Overton, Nebraska, in Dawson County. But they were originally from the Buxton Settlement, Kent County, Ontario, where many escaped slaves and free people of color resided.  The settlement placed a high value on educating its children, an ethos they had brought from Canada. More than 100 families lived in the settlement during its roughly 40+ years of existence.

“The homesteaders of DeWitty were just that —Audacious,” says Catherine Meehan Blount, one of the Meehans’ last two living grandchildren. “They were Audacious for believing that the American dream belonged to them, too, and they were Audacious for committing all they had to attain that dream.  Remembering DeWitty pays homage to those who confronted barriers in the pre-civil war United States, in Canada and in the Nebraska Sand Hills with a ‘we can’ attitude. Remembering DeWitty gives anyone who knows their story a reminder that they can, too.”

Joyceann Gray and Marcia Thompkins great granddaughters of DeWitty homesteaders William P. Walker and Charlotte Hatter-Riley Walker, say:

“When we can clearly mark where our ancestors have been — and by name — we can ensure the full story will be told and we can then better understand the purpose of our journey.”



Example of Nebraska State Historical Society Marker


“This is really the tale of two communities: DeWitty-Audacious and Brownlee,” says Stew Magnuson, former Nebraska nonfiction book of the year winner, and author of The Last American Highway: A Journey Through Time Down U.S. Route 83: Nebraska-Kansas-Oklahoma, which has a chapter on DeWitty-Audacious. “Relations between the two communities were by all known accounts, excellent. The mostly Danish settlers of Brownlee and the African-Americans in DeWitty held a July 4th picnic together every year. William Walker was the county Veterinarian supported both communities.

Some of the one-room schoolhouses were integrated. goldies-classroom                           Teacher Goldie Walker Hayes and her one room school

There is also another photograph in history books that shows the Brownlee residents on the day they came to help build the DeWitty Church. People had to depend on each other in that remote, harsh land,” says Magnuson.

Magnuson first encountered the DeWitty story in a Nebraska land Magazine article he found in his grandparent’s home in Stapleton, Nebraska when he was a teenager.

“The thought that there was a black settlement in the Sand Hills blew my mind because I had been raised on a diet of Hollywood westerns and TV shows that portrayed the American West as populated only by white folks and Indians. The towns and homesteads were in fact far more multicultural and racially integrated than the media and history textbooks have portrayed.I hope the sign does a little to dispel that myth,” he says.

Posted by Stew Magnuson at 6:12 AM

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Labels: African-American Homesteads, Audacious Nebraska, Cherry County Nebraska, DeWitty NebraskaNebraska State Historical Society


  1. Joyceann Gray May 26, 2015 at 6:58 AM

Thank you for your efforts and this excellent write-up!!
Just a side note: Goldie (my grandmother) and her sister Fernnella Walker were the teachers in district 164 and their brother George Riley was the director of the schools you spoke of!!!

2. Marcia Thompkins May 26, 2015 at 11:24 AM

Thanks for that great article, Stew, and all of your efforts to recognize and memorialize an important piece of American history! To add to Joyceanne’s side note, Fernnella Walker is my grandmother. Her husband, Charles “Boss” Woodson organized and lead the DeWitty dance band and was widely known (and remembered by many) in Cherry County for his impressive musical talents. 🙂

My Research Library to date

Black History Books on my shelf


African American Topeka – Sherri Camp

African Canadians in Union Blue – Richard M. Reid

Annie’s Trip to Grandma’s – Barbara Rose Page

A North-side View of Slavery The Refugee – Benjamin Drew

Baby Steps to Freedom – Joyce Middleton

Black Women of the Old West – William L. Katz

Crossing the Border – Sharon A. Roger Hepburn

Exodusters – Nell Irvin Painter

From Midnight to Dawn – Jacqueline L. Tobin

Images of America African American Topeka- Sherrita Camp

Incidents of the life of a slave girl – Harriet Jacobs

In Motion- the African-American Migration Experience – Howard Dodson & Sylviane A. Dioue

Kindred – Octavia E. Butler

Lay Down Body Roberta Hughes Wright & Wilbur B. Hughes III

Legacy to Buxton – Second Edition A. C. Robbins

Lena Horne – Leslie Palmer

Lina Derritt, Petitioner, v. State Board of Real Estate Examiners Record and Pleadings – John Pegg, /William B. Saxbe

Look to the North Star – Victor Ullman

Magazine of the Jefferson County Historical Society – 12/2011

Orange Morgan’s 38,325 Mornings – Forrest M. Stith

Refugees from Slavery – Benjamin Drew

Rumors of the Truth – Lyn Spencer DeNaeyer Messersmith

Selected Writings and Speeches of – Marcus Garvey

Sketches of Ancient History of the six Nations – David Cusick

Slave Testimony – John W. Blassingame

Sunrises and Sunsets for Freedom – Forrest M. Stith

The Ancient black Hebrews and Arabs – Anu M’Bantu & Gert Muller

The Blacks in Canada A History – Robin W. Winks

The Booker T. Washington Collection – Booker T. Washington

The Family Tree Historical Maps Book – Allison Dolan

The Faces of my people – Monique Crippen

The Freedom-Seekers – Daniel G. Hill

The Philosophy of Negro Suffrage – Jerome R. Riley

The Houses in Buxton – Patricia L. Neely

The Last American Highway – Stew Magnuson

The souls of Black Folk – W.E.B DuBois

They came before Columbus – Ivan Van Sertima

Up from Slavery – Booker T. Washington

When I was a slave – Norman R. Yetman

Women’s Slave Narratives – Annie L. Burton and others

The Hatter Brothers – Franklin

            Whatever the cause of George’s flight, his parting made things rather difficult for the remaining slaves; their movements restricted, and travel passes all revoked for quite some time.

           The custom was for slaves to share in the work around various family plantations depending on the time of the year for harvest production or planting. The slaves were hired out for a fee and in some cases transported in chains.

        For Franklin, there were no chains, he was Andrew Hunters’ man. Not sure of the relationship there for Franklin was a well thought of Carpenter. Andrew Hunter was the prosecuting attorney at the John Brown Trial in Charles Town. The baptism records in The Zion Episcopal Church show Franklins first four children were baptized in 1855. And later, When Rebecca and Franklin lost their precious daughter Barbara Ellen July 10, 1858, that was posted too. Records show Franklin remaining behind in Charles Town, West Virginia married Rebecca, the daughter of William and Maria Lettie McCord. The Edward Aisquith family, who refused to sell her, enslaved Rebecca, her siblings, children, and parents until the end of the Civil War. Franklin continued working hard just five miles east near the Harewood plantation.

          Though born during slavery this family would live long enough to enjoy freedom after slavery was abolished.

           Franklin would send word to his brother through John Brown’s travelers and would receive news when they returned. In 1863, Franklin received word from George again attesting to the wondrous opportunity to honestly own the land you toiled on and how the government was so supportive of individual rights. He spoke of all the land available and how well they could do together with their families. We found that Franklin and Rebecca traveled to Canada and saw first hand what a great opportunity was available, they also went into Kent and were formally  married in 1866.

The Hatters returned to Charles Town and although it took some time they did, in fact, return to Canada and enjoyed a free and fulfilling life. Franklin lived until 85.

 Those Who Came Before Us...The Hatter's

The Hatter brothers are buried side by side just up the road from the Church they built in South Buxton.

  1. Genealogical Research Library, Ontario, Canada. Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
  2.  [Kent County Marriage Register, R.G.8, (1858-1869) Series I-6-B, Provincial  Archives of Ontario, Toronto.]

Common Melungeon Surname List

As time permits my intention is to research as many of these families as I can. Please contact me if you have any information you would like to share or questions.

North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky

Adams, Adkins, Allen, Allmond, Ashworth,

Barker, Barnes, Bass, Beckler, Bedgood, Bell, Bennett, Berry, Beverly, Biggs, Bolen/Bowlen/Bolling/Bowling, Boone, Bowman, Badby, Branham, Braveboy, Briger/Bridger, Brogan, Brooks, Brown, Bunch, Butler, Butters, Bullion, Burton, Buxton, Byrd,

Campell, Carrico, Carter, Casteel, Caudill, Chapman, Chavis, Clark, Cloud, Coal/Cole/Coles, Coffey, Coleman, Colley, Collier/Colyer, Collins, Collinsworth, Cook(e), Cooper, Cotman, Counts, Cox/Coxe, Criel, Croston, Crow, Cumba/Cumbo/Cumbow, Curry, Custalow,

Dalton, Dare, Davis, Denham, Dennis, Dial, Dorton, Doyle, Driggers, Dye, Dyess,

Ely, Epps, Evans, Fields, Freeman, French,

Gann, Garland, Gibbs, Gibson/Gipson, Goins/Goings, Givens, Gowan/Gowen, Graham, Green(e), Gwinn,

Hall, Hammon, Harmon, Harris, Harvie/Harvey, Hawkes, Hendricks/Hendrix, Hill, Hillman, Hogge, Holmes, Hopkins, Howe, Hyatt,

Jackson, James, Johnson, Jones,

Keith, Kennedy, Kiser,

Langston, Lasie, Lawson, Locklear, Lopes, Lowry, Lucas,

Maddox, Maggard, Major, Male/Mayle, Maloney, Marsh, Martin, Miles, Minard, Miner/Minor, Mizer, Moore, Morley, Mullins, Mursh,

Nash, Nelson, Newman, Niccans, Nichols, Noel, Norris,

Orr, Osborn/Osborne, Oxendine,

Page, Paine, Patterson, Perkins, Perry, Phelps, Phipps, Pinder, Polly, Powell, Powers, Pritchard, Pruitt,

Ramey, Rasnick, Reaves/Reeves, Revels, Richardson, Roberson/Robertson/Robinson, Russell,

Sammons, Sampson, Sawyer, Scott, Sexton, Shavis, Shepherd/Shephard, Short, Sizemore, Smiling, Smith, Stallard, Stanley, Steel, Stevens, Stewart, Strother,

Sweat/Swett, Swindall,

 Tally, Taylor, Thompson, Tolliver, Tuppance, Turner,

Vanover, Vicars/Viccars/ Vickers,

Ware, Watts, Weaver, White, Whited, Wilkins, Williams, Williamson, Willis, Wisby, Wise, Wood, Wright, Wyatt, Wynn

Walker Family History

This family history begins with Ann a runaway slave from Kentucky, who  ran and walked  a long chilling and desperate journey until she reached Chillicothe, OH. Once there, she was befriended by the Walker family, (Quakers). She felt safe there finding freedom and peace. 

Can anyone imagine being a girl all alone traveling in such conditions?

In about 1832, the Walker family lost Mrs. Walker and all the burden of the house upkeep including cooking rested on Ann.  But she was happy to oblige since she was being paid and freedom never tasted so good. The next year was like the last;  peaceful and busy. Ann met George  one spring day as he came to see if there was work. After another  long winter and into the spring George asked Ann to be his. Finally, in 1834,  George and Ann welcomed a daughter and named her  Margaret after her mother and two years later a son was born, she named him William Parker in memory of the father and brother she would never see again.

As long as they remained on the farm of the Quakers, they all felt safe. Ann being very fair and her children even fairer in complexion and features were all assumed to be Quakers too.  Years went by and Mr. Walker passed away and in his will he left everything to his eldest son and  a small plot of land and house for George and Ann and their kids.   George and Ann decided to take their family further north to Canada to the Elgin settlement that William had told them stories about.  William Parker by this time was grown and gone off to be a seaman on the Great Lakes. By June of that same year,  they packed up and looked north taking with them the good wishes and prayers of those left behind. The Walker’s arrived in the Elgin settlement in about 1860.

William Parker Walker (b. 1836-1931),  began his travels as a seaman on the ships traveling the Great Lakes. Along the route was a port at Windsor, Canada; it was during a layover there that William P. learned of the Elgin settlement in Buxton. The plight of the runaways struck a chord with William P. and from then on he quietly helped runaways to cross over to Canada at different stops along the way. In fact, he helped his parents and sister leave Ohio headed for Buxton.  

William P. was an educated man in knowing how to read and write and was trained by his father in the Coopers Trade (the making of wooden barrels). He had a thirst for knowledge and energy abound. Once realizing his place was on the land William P.  left the sea to farm the land offered in the Elgin settlement. and became the 2nd Post Master of the settlement.

Postmaster Appoinment

Additionally, he was the librarian of the school and the Secretary for the B.M.E. Choir.

As 1870’s approached, William P. Walker met and married Sarah Kersey they were living and farming just outside of Brownville, Nebraska on land he awarded back in 1860 (under the Script Warren Act of 1855) and they ultimately had six children.

William P Walker and 1st wife Sarah Kersey(2)

 The William King Riley family had also left Buxton for homesteading in Nebraska around the same time.    (See the file on the “Riley Family”) The Buxton Liberty Bell

How our ancestors traveled


There was two ways to walk to Canada via the Underground Railroad. One way to enter was through New York and the other from Michigan. Thousands of runaway slaves walked the crossing over a natural stone bridge crossing the Detroit River to Amherstburg, Ontario. Sadly this bridge no longer exists but there is a memorial at the Buxton Museum in honor of all who walked across.

  • Walked from Charles Town, Virginia to Niagara, Canada -365 miles (1836
  • By wagon from Niagara, Canada to Elgin Settlement in Chatham-Kent, Ontario – 304 miles (1850)
  • Walked from Charles Town, West Virginia to Buxton – 533 miles (1878)
  • By wagon, rail and walking 1,718 miles from Buxton, Ontario to the Sandhills of Nebraska (by 1909)
  • Walked from Deep in Kentucky to Chillicothe, OH – well over 180 miles (1830)
  • Walked from Chillicothe, OH to Buxton, Ontario – Over 480 miles  (abt 1860)

The Hatter Brothers -George

Through wills, property inventories and other family papers, we found that John Ariss (notable Architect) and Samuel Walter Washington (a brother of George Washington) owned and shared Hatter slaves. Additionally, by 1830 emancipation records verify the enslavement of some of the Hatter’s in the wills of John Ariss and his wife Elizabeth.  

Reuben and James Hatter were brothers and slaves on Samuel Walter Washington’s plantation outside of Charles Town, Jefferson County, VA in 1801. Their mother was Charlotte, the mistresses’ lady in waiting for Elizabeth Ariss and who was freed along with her sister Sarah the housekeeper and their father Francis in 1802-3. According to the will and Deeds of Freedom from John Ariss files, they were to be granted their freedom only after the death of his wife.

James Hatter, being fair in appearance and intelligent was raised up to be a houseman.  James was allowed to marry and a number of children were born to James and Matilda, but sadly some of the children were sold to other plantations.

Something happened for later we find James working and living near the Dickerson Furnace at Malden Salt Mines in Kanawha Valley.

Samuel Walter Washington (brother of Geroge Washington) reluctantly sold Reuben Hatter to Christian Blackburn, who in turn emancipated him on the condition he leaves for Liberia along with his wife, Elizabeth.



 Those Who Came Before Us...The Hatter's

This picture is of the home of George and Nancy Hatter. 

Taken during the Annual Homecoming in Buxton 4 Sep, 2014



George Hatter

Folklore has George refusing to continue living as a slave, so shortly after turning about 16 he escaped. The Sheriff caught him, and George was returned to receive a  severe  whipping and hard labor. Upon hearing that he and the others who had fallen in such disfavor of the plantation owner were to be sold off to the slave trader from New Orleans. George began to plot his next escape.

Another version of this tale had George as a favorite of his mistress Mrs. Samuel Washington, and it was she who aided him in his flight. She provided a horse, provisions and instructions to hide by day travel by night and always follow the North Star. There was a large bounty out for young George.
Thankfully, George did make it to Pennsylvania assisted by the Underground Railroad; Free Blacks and Quakers. There he married a beauty Mary Baker, from Liverpool, England. With her help in short order, he began to read and write. In studying hard, he excelled and became quite the orator speaking out against slavery. But it became apparent he was not safe, so they headed further north to Niagara area in Canada. In 1849, learning of the Elgin Settlement George and Mary prepared to move to Buxton. They finally arrived in 1850.The Hatter’s accumulated five hundred acres and had five children. George would become  known as an outspoken abolitionist and many in the settlement sought his counsel for his opinion was highly respected. Notables such John Brown (Harper’s Ferry) would travel far to speak with him and others in Chatham-Kent on a number of occasions to discuss many issues concerning establishing a free state.  
DSC_3205 George along with many other pillars of the Buxton Settlement declined to participate in the erratic schemes of John Brown.

George Walter Hatter lived until almost 70, dying from injuries he suffered in a fall from the roof of his home 1888.

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