The Blacks of Hinesburg
Written by Erica Taylor, Tom Joyner Morning Show Monday, 26 April 2010 18:00
African-Americans are not typically associated with the state of Vermont, but there was a time when notable families lived in the Hinesburg Hills area, working as local farmers. Records indicate that in 1795, some of the women engaged in entrepreneurialism, selling local commodities. Women were also able to use the court system to settle land disputes and probate issues.
Uncharacteristic of Northern slavery, the freed blacks of Hinesburg Hills would be surrounded by generations of family, in an area of the country known to sell infant slaves for lack of housing.
Hinesburg, now known as Lincoln Hill, was home about eight families that resided on black owned land in the area. A few of their names were Violet and Shubael Clark and Prince Peters, along with his wife Hannah Lensman. The relationships between blacks and whites varied. Although Vermont was the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777, there was still much racism in the mountains. White men would often try to intimidate black men in leadership positions, like Pastor Charles Bowles. It was rumored that a mob was planning to kidnap Pastor Bowles and have him drug into a lake, but once they saw that he wasn’t afraid, the group backed down. But in that same town, a local white woman agreed to represent her black neighbor in a probate case. By the way the black woman was Prince Peters second wife, Eliza.
In recent studies, historian and author Elise Guyette found evidence that at least three black men payed poll taxes in 1808 to the city, indicating they were eligible and able to Vote.
As time went on and the Civil War concluded, the families migrated to find work. The blacks still remaining in Lincoln Hills are the buried ancestors of Hinesburg.
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