Jul 22, 2006

Country Churches: Mount Zoar AME

"African-American men began to vote in Cecil County in 1870, although most were segregated into certain sections of territory - usually the edge of town or isolated communities such as Cokesbury or Mt. Zoar - in the "Northwest Barrens*." - Erika L. Quesenbery 2003

"To the south, south-east and south-west of Brown's ford (in Lancaster County), beginning but little more than a mile away, lay thousands and thousands of acres of land, to which no one at that time possessed a title. The land was mostly grown up with pine and scrub-oak, or black jack, and in summer time was used as pasture land for the cattle of many small farmers who lived near. At such times it would be dotted over with small herds of cattle, one in each herd wearing a bell, the sound of which was well-known to the owner or his boys, who went out to hunt them if they did not return at the proper time. This they mostly did, and as the summer sun approached the western horizon you could see numerous small herds of cattle, each led by the "bell cow," wending their way quietly toward their homes. Here and there all through this wilderness stood the log hut of a negro, and sometimes of a white man, built of pine logs and covered with boards or slabs of the same material. Hard by was a small lot or clearing, fenced in and used for a garden. The occupants of these huts picked up a subsistence by working by the day for farmers in Lancaster, Chester and Cecil counties; and sometimes in winter by chopping wood, threshing with the flail, dressing flax and other pursuits of a similar character." - Ellwood Griest 1873

*Ironically, a lot of what was called "barrens" in Maryland was not, as the locals believed, poor farm land, but land that had been deforested by Indians over the centuries to provide grasslands for game. Thus, in some cases, the wasteland grudgingly sold to the freedmen may have been prime agricultural property. Go here for more info on the Maryland Barrens.

Camera: Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens.

© 2006 Falmanac