Presentation on theme: "“Black Frontiers” A History of African American Heroes in the Old West."— Presentation transcript:
“Black Frontiers” A History of African American Heroes in the Old West
Benjamin Singleton, and S.A. McClure, Leaders of the Exodus, leaving Nashville, Tennessee.
Benjamin "Pap" Singleton Born a slave in 1809 At 37 escaped to freedom. Traveled through the South organizing parties to colonize in Kansas. In 1873 nearly 300 Blacks followed him to Cherokee County and founded "Singleton's Colony." Settled Nicodemus in Between 1879 and 1881, however, the organized movement gave way to an "Exodus" in which tens of thousands of oppressed and impoverished Southern Blacks fled to Kansas and other Northern states.
Known affectionately as "Pap," Benjamin Singleton died in Through his last years he took great comfort and pride in the role in played as "Father of the Negro Exodus." His burial place is unknown.
At the time of the Exodus to Kansas, yellow fever ravaged many river towns in Missouri, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Because many of the black migrants who stopped over in these towns -- coming by steamboat, train, or horseback -- were sick, unwashed, and poverty-stricken, it was assumed by city officials that they must be potential disease carriers. This caused great alarm in such cities as St. Louis, which imposed unnecessary quarantine measures to discourage future migrants.
Engraved mural of Exodusters fleeing yellow fever.
In February of 1880, more than 900 black families from Mississippi reached St. Louis, en route to Kansas. Some black migrants sought "conductors" to make travel arrangements for them. These conductors would often ask for money in advance and not show up at the appointed departure time, leaving migrants stranded at docks and train stations. The following picture is of refugees on a Levee, in 1897.
Exodusters waiting for a boat. They were frequently cheated Paying for boat tickets, and being promised that someone would meet them. Then no one would show up.
As Reconstruction came to an end in the 1870s, many Southern blacks feared they would lose their civil liberties. Known as "Exodusters," thousands fled to a number of newly created black towns, such as Nicodemus. Founded in 1877, Nicodemus was promoted as "the Promised Land." Within two years the community had 700 residents. But bad weather and subsequent crop failures, followed by the Union Pacific Railroad's decision to bypass the town, spelled its doom. Nicodemus was soon deserted.
I am anxious to reach your state... because of the sacredness of her soil washed by the blood of humanitarians for the cause of freedom." -- S.L. Johnson, black Louisianan in a letter to Kansas Governor John St John, 1879 First Baptist Church, Nicodemus Nicodemus 1855
Henry Williams and Reece Switzer were early Nicodemus Residents
Township map of Nicodemus
Aerial view of Nicodemus
Click here to read more about the pictures of Nicodemus: Historic Fletcher-Switzer House in Nicodemus
Some more pictures of what life was like on the Plains for all settlers !
Inside a Sod House Just dirt walls, sealed with newspapers, or the precious pages of books that were torn from the binding and mixed with spit and mucilage made from the hoofs of dead animals to attempt to seal out the wind. There are perfectly documented accounts of Great Plains residents going insane from the blowing of the wind in winter; especially susceptible were women, who by virtue of the times and their children could rarely go far from the home like these sod houses.