The Banwell Road Area Black Settlement - Ontario Heritage Trust

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The Banwell Road Area Black Settlement

Beginning in the 1830s, at least 30 families fleeing enslavement and racial oppression in the United States settled in the Banwell Road area in Sandwich East. They had the opportunity to purchase land through two Black-organized land settlement programs – the Colored Industrial Society (a mission of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Sandwich East) and the Refugee Home Society (administered by Black abolitionist Henry and Mary Bibb of Maidstone). Freedom and land ownership meant self-determination and financial security. Settlers purchased 10- or 25-acre parcels of land to build homes and farms. The A.M.E. church held 25 acres in trust to construct a church and a school – and for a burial ground at the site, namely, the Smith family cemetery – located here. These families created a strong sense of community by establishing institutions and advocating for social justice. The Banwell Road area Black settlement contributed to the history, economy and culture of the region, and paved the way for their descendants to live fulfilled, free lives.

Location

The Smith Cemetery or Banwell Road Cemetery, on the west side of Banwell Road, Town of Tecumseh.

Region: Southwestern Ontario

County/District: County of Essex

Municipality: Town of Tecumseh

Themes