Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road

Traveling the Freedom Road tells the story of our country from the time of slavery, through the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and Reconstruction.

The Emancipation Proclamation was the executive order by Abraham Lincoln made on January 1, 1863 that freed the slaves in all states and territories.

Reconstruction is the time after the Civil War when the country had to rebuild and re-unite after fighting for so long between the North and the South.

Sometimes we can think too easily about history, like, once a slave escaped on the Underground Railroad and made it to the North, their worries were over. Not true. For a long time slave catchers could cross into the North and drag a person back into slavery. It’s easy to think also that after the Emancipation Proclamation slaves were all free and and their life was happy and easy, but that isn’t how it really worked. For one thing,  if a person became free, where would that person live? How would they eat? Do you think all people would be kind and helpful to them? Would there be some people who were angry that the slaves were free?

It’s a complicated story but very interesting. What did some freed slaves decide to do? Did they stay and work for their former owner for pay? Did the move North? Did they try to find family members who had been sold away from them? How did they find a place to live and a way to make a living? Did they go to school? Where? Author: Linda Osborne

Freed slaved coming to Indiana might have decided to live in Lyles Station or at the Huggart Settlement.

Lyles Station, near Princeton, Indiana
Brothers Joshua and Sanford Lyles, freed slaves from Tennessee, established Lyles Station in the 1850s. Joshua returned to Tennessee after the Civil War to recruit family and friends to join him in Indiana. He also donated sixty acres of his land to the Airline Railroad so there could be a railroad station in the town. The town eventually included, a post office, the railroad station, fifty-five homes, an elementary school, two churches, two general stores, and a lumber mill.

 

Huggart Settlement, near South Bend, Indiana
huggart-settlementThe Huggart Settlement was established by Samuel Huggart, a free black man from Ohio. Both white and black families settled here and participated in an integrated community life. They farmed, went to church & went to school together. The families were members of a Quaker congregation called the Olive Branch Church, which was opposed to slavery. The Huggart Settlement is an example of a community where people of different backgrounds and races found common ground at a time when segregation prevailed in many other places.

The settlement began to decline following the 1913 flood of the Patoka and Wabash rivers. While only a few houses remain in the community of Lyles Station, nearly half of the current residents are descendents of the original black settlers, making Lyles Station the last remaining black settlement in Indiana.

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