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U.S. History Topics » Ethnic Groups » African Americans

New Philadelphia

tells the story of the first African American to plat and register a town before the Civil War. Born into slavery in 1777 in South Carolina, Frank McWorter moved to Kentucky with his owner, where he married and earned cash as a laborer to purchase freedom for his wife and later himself. He bought a tract of military land in Illinois, where he and his wife planted and raised enough crops to eventually buy freedom for 16 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (National Park Service, Teaching with Historic Places)

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Interesting Fact:

Life on the frontier was focused on survival. That meant clearing land, building dwellings and other structures, and planting crops to transform a wilderness into productive farmland. Shortages of labor on the frontier and the determination of slave owners to make as much money as possible from their human possessions allowed some enslaved individuals to earn cash by hiring out their time to other settlers.
Aerial view of New Philadelphia, 2005 (Aerial photo by Tommy Hailey using powered parachute funded by The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, National Park Service)

Aerial view

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