Uncle Tom's Cabin
Based on the Novel that started The Civil War! Al Adamson Cult Classic!
Underground Railroad -
Education at Buxton Settlement
Spencer Alexander is a sixth generation
Underground Railroad descendant and has done extensive research into his
family history. His grandfather was a founder of the museum when it was
established in 1967.
Mr. Alexander is the Assistant Curator of the Buxton National Historic
Site & Museum. Mr. Alexander also does historical dramatic portrayals of
prominent figures pertaining to the Underground Railroad and Canadian
Black History as well as gives presentations to schools and other
organizations in Canada and the United States.
As assistant curator he gives tours and presentations to visitors,
conducts genealogical research for those interested in discovering their
family history, assists university students and professors in their
research into the history of the Elgin/Buxton Settlement, updates
accession records, cares for the museum's artifacts and documents using
museum conservation methods.
The Elgin Settlement, also known as Buxton, was one of four organized
black settlements to be developed in Canada's early history during US
slavery. The black population of Canada West and Chatham was already
high due to the area's proximity to the United States. The land was
purchased by the Elgin Association through the Presbyterian Synod for
creating a settlement. Location: 12 miles south of Chatham, Ontario.
When news of the Elgin settlement spread, white settlers became worried,
and attempted to block its development with a petition. Regardless of
sentiment, plans for the settlement went ahead and many of Buxton's
settlers feared for the life of William King due to the resistance of
William King believed that blacks could function successfully in a
working society if given the same educational opportunities as white
children. "Blacks are intellectually capable of absorbing classical and
abstract matters."Being a reverend and teacher, the building of a school
and church in the settlement was a necessity to him. The settlement also
was home to the logging industry. George Brown, who later became one of
the Fathers of Confederation, was a supporter of William King and helped
build the settlement.
William King wanted a stable settlement for the black settlers. By
requiring, the inhabitants to pay for their own property and possessions
he hoped to instill a sense of pride in the community. The settlers also
had to live on the land for ten years, which made many stay a reasonable
length of time in Buxton. The rules paid off, as Buxton has been hailed
the only successful black settlement in Canada.
Buxton Museum Tour
THE BUXTON MUSEUM, officially opened in 1967, was Raleigh
Township's Centennial Project as a memorial to the Elgin Settlement,
haven for the fugitives of the American system of slavery in the
pre-Civil War years.
This scholarly study is a welcome effort
to broaden the horizon of what many Americans have come to believe are
the true westering experiences. It began with the early western images
created in dime store novels and brought to life on the movie screen.
The featured settlers, cowboys, outlaws, and other heroes were generally
white. In this scenario, the frontier was tamed by strong willed white
men while the role of African Americans in the "western United States
and Canada and Alaska" was largely ignored.
In Black Pioneers, Professor Ravage challenges any notion of a "white
west" scenario and uses "approximately two hundred pictorials" and
"other graphic images" to establish the historical presence of African
Americans in the West. Between 1870 and 1880, for example, there were at
least 150,000 Blacks living west of the Mississippi River; of which,
15-20,000 represented "a broad range of laborers, professionals,
builders, gamblers, roughnecks, politicians, leaders, followers, good
men and women" as well as the bad. They joined forced with other ethnic
groups, when allowed, to engage "in various endeavors in small and large
communities" to challenge an unforgiving frontier with courage and
daring. This forging experience extended the general description of the
American frontier. In true diasporic terms, the author has expanded the
realm of the traditional west. For him the frontier or the American West
(Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, Nevada, etc., and the Pacific
Northwest) has been re-defined to include Alaska and Hawaii. And,
indeed, Canada becomes part of the African American's frontier
experience. This is done despite being overlooked or excluded from the
fabric of the Ethnic Studies Review Volume 21 North American conquest
saga. Thus this book not only establishes the African American pioneers'
"physical presence" but shows these pioneers as active players in the
saga and as contributors to the cultural, social, and political
development of the North American Frontier.
The author's admission that the text would not stress "historical
analysis" of the evidence does not excuse some questionable statements
in the narrative. This aside, the photographic evidence is truly a
remarkable showcase of the varied existence for blacks on the frontier.
This is a very readable book that I highly recommend to academics and
general readers. It is a welcome addition in the mode of William L.
Katz's pioneering pictorial work on African Americans' westering
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