The AME Church grew out of the Free African Society in the late 1700s, but the church became it’s own entity founded in Philadelphia around 1816. So you can see given the age of Ebenezer AME in East Whiteland, Chester County, PA that it is truly part of the early days of a church and religion founded in Philadelphia. Bishop Richard Allen died in 1831, just months before Ebenezer came to be after Joseph Malin deeded the land.
Hiram Woodyard was a Township resident and former slave who served in the Union Army as a teamster. He was a leader in the African American community and is buried at the Ebenezer AME Church. His home still stands on Congestoga Road. Other homes he built still stand. He was an inhabitant of Bacton Hill.
Without active preservation there will come a time that all which will be left of the area will be my blog posts including this one from 2017 which is an oral history complete with some really cool photos courtesy of Claude Bernadin, or this one from 2015, this one from 2016, this one from 2017, the ceremony November 2016, a post from October 2016, another one from October 2016, when for brief moment people stopped to visit the old souls now covered by weeds and brush once more, 2015 post which had links to earlier posts. Also what will survive will be the occasional newspaper article from every newspaper reporter who tried to raise awareness to this area and to Ebenezer.
Once upon a time people tried to get a Bacton Hill Historic District or something like that. It’s a shame it never happened. Because at least then there would have been a more organized history of the place.
So this Juneteenth, I was thinking of Ebenezer again and here are a few new photos scattered throughout this post. I remember the black civil war soldiers here and elsewhere throughout Chester County. I share again the oral history of one resident (CLICK HERE). I think of all of the people who have shared what they have discovered about Ebenezer over the years.
Juneteenth (on June 19) is know as Emancipation Day and also as Freedom Day, Jubilation Day, and Liberation Day. I never learned about this important day in any history class I took in school. Which is something I think needs to be rectified because it’s part of our history of this country.
Although Juneteenth is celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in two states – Delaware and Kentucky – until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished non-penal slavery nationwide.
On Fold3, there exist some records of Hiram, including voluntary army enlistment. These photos aren’t the best but here they are:
Someone has been cutting the grass again at Ebenezer. I don’t know if it is the developer who will be building houses all around it or someone else. It’s not the AME church. They need to become involved as we believe that this is STILL their land, but will they?
I am but a middle-aged white woman. I am not black and won’t pretend I understand the black experience. I try to learn and respect it. But given the state of racism in this country and the need for all Americans to learn more of this country’s history good and bad, to me, this also means we need to SAVE sites like Ebenezer and preserve their history.
So I am calling on officials state, local, county, federal, and from the AME church to save Ebenezer. The church is too far gone to save BUT capping and preservation of the church ruin is possible. We need a study including with that sonar stuff like they use for Duffy’s Cut to map out where all of the graves are and what stones may lie beneath the dirt.
Officials also need to remember and properly notate the Bacton Hill area because it was a well settled free black community once upon a time. This needs to be done because otherwise this will all sink as a footnote to history that will be forgotten.
Thanks for stopping by.