Freedom Colonies

Freedom Colonies

There was a wonderful story in Austin American Statesman on Sunday about a Bastrop County Historical Museum project to document the freedom colonies in the Bastrop area. The Bastrop County Historical Museum is looking for oral history and documents and artifacts.

Ten of the Bastrop County freedom colonies have been already been recorded by Andrea Roberts, Texas A&M professor of urban planning, who is collecting statewide information on freedom colonies. 

The Andrea Roberts site can be found at this site 

This is a new effort and hopefully it will spur more local activity such as the effort in Bastrop to identify and preserve this legacies.

Freedom colonies were the communities created by freed slaves after the the June 19th declaration of emancipation.  Freed African-Americans purchased land and created new communities.  Most of them were located on the edges of counties in order to get as far away as possible from the oversight of County Police.

Book cover of four African-American individuals on the front
Freedom Colonies by Thad Sitton

Thad Sitton has written a wonderful book on this piece of Texas history.  Freedom Colonies was published in 2005 and collected as much information as was available at the time.  This new effort should add to the identification and preservation of that history.

PHIT, inspired by the book, began a documentary project on St. John Colony, located in Caldwell County. Every Juneteenth, a Trail Ride is conducted to replicate the original caravan from Bastrop to St. John Colony (originally known as Winn’s Colony)  to commemorate the hurried trek to their new community.  It is an impressive sight as the Buffalo Soldiers ride their horses along the rural roads.  A great and inclusive feast is held at the community building when they arrive.  We were unable to finish the project, but still have the video clips and interviews.

Travis County is listed in Freedom Colonies as having 5 settlements. Clarksville, Kincheonville, Littig, Masontown, and Burdett’s Prairie(which is now known as Montopolis).