African-American Settlement in Cambria County

This Settlement was founded in the late 1790's by Edinborough Smith and William Harshberger - whose families have called the Johnstown Area home for over 200 years.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

On this 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation - I can't help but wonder what my mountain gang thought about all this. They would only have heard about this by word of mouth - since most could not read or write. Living for decades as Free Colored - did this indeed really matter to them?

Ancient Edinbourgh Smith (abt 1760-1865) was a slave from Virginia that worked as a teamster with Washington at Yorktown before settling here around 1790 - I wonder what he thought. Old Lizzie Harshberger born in the 1820's who grew up in better times and was never a slave - did it matter to her - a mulatto washerwoman trying to support three children. Browns at times was used as a stop on the Underground Railroad - though only sparingly. So stories from runaway slaves would have been passed around - Jane Riley was a runaway slave from Virginia who married Orange Dorman and lived up the mountain for a time.

It did matter to men like Orange Dorman, John Brown and John Smith who all signed up to serve their country - some before the 1863 date. I think a lot about this point - did they do it out of a sense of duty or was it a deeper reason - wanting to prove that African-American soldiers were just as good as any others.

A while back - someone was talking to me about Browns - asking me all sorts of questions - but they said one interesting thing - they'd heard that Mr. Lincoln was the one that gave them their land. Even though they have been here since the 1790's - in a kind of round about way he did.

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