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Black Settlement

  • Slaves from the southern United States fled to Essex County in the 1840’s, settling in the township of Colchester, Malden, Anderdon and Maidstone and in the towns of Amherstburg and Sandwich
  • At times, agents of anti-slavery societies would assist in their escapes and when they arrived in Amherstburg or Sandwich
  • They would be given fresh clothing and provided with rations until they could fend for themselves
  • From Amherstburg or Sandwich, they would begin their journey to freedom via the Underground Railway
  • The Underground Railway became the first great freedom movement in the Americas
  • Many did not realize that rather than a train going underground this movement was a secret network of good people who opposed slavery
  • Railroad terms such as Conductor, Station, and Terminals were used to confuse the slave catchers
  • This secret was so successful in the 1800’s, people believed there was an actual train that ran through a tunnel carrying fugitives from the south to freedom in the north
  • John Freeman Walls and his wife Jane King Walls travelled to freedom and settled in the township of Maidstone, presently the home of John Freeman Walls Historic Site
  • Many became small farmers, craftsmen, traders, shopkeepers, labourers and sailors