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Former intern speaks virtually on 19th Century Black settlements in Amherstburg

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A former intern with the Amherstburg Freedom Museum came back virtually last week to participate in an online series of presentations for the museum.

Karleigh Kochaniec, a University of Windsor student currently pursuing her master’s degree, served as a Local Black History Intern under a program offered between the university and Amherstburg Freedom Museum. As part of her research, she looked up and mapped area Black settlements in the 19th Century, including several in Amherstburg.

“Beyond the Underground Railroad: A History of Black Settlement in 19th Century Amherstburg” was the topic of last Thursday afternoon’s presentation. Kochaniec noted when the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act was passed, it led to an increase of escaped slaves coming to what is now Canada, but she added their lives continued and settlements grew once they arrived.

Kochaniec outlined four known settlements that were in Amherstburg, the first being the Haiti settlement. That was believed to be in Anderdon Township between Concession 3 North and Concession 7, though the centre could be in the vicinity of Concession 4 North. Little is known about the Haiti settlement, with Kochaniec going over an obituary which did refer to it.

A more well-known Black settlement was Marble Village, which was in the area where Texas Road is now. She estimated the area to be roughly where Knobb Hill Dr. is to Concession 2 North. While it is commonly known in the modern era as where Italian immigrants settled, she said it was preceded by a Black settlement.

Many in the Marble Village worked in a nearby quarry, which was in the area of what is now known as the General Chemical lands. There were also a nearby railway where people worked at as well as a saw mill.

The roughly 88-acre settlement saw the Black community there establish their own school, which had been located in the area of Texas Road and Concession 2 North.

The Mount Pleasant settlement was in Malden Township and encompassed such areas as Busy Bee corners, Sinasac Corners and Malden Centre.  The centre of the settlement was near Concession 7 South where Julia Turner, a prominent Black teacher and land owner of the day, taught at a school in the region. Local landowners still maintain a memorial created from what has been discovered on their land over the years.

The George-King-Seymour settlement describes the Amherstburg streets that it was on, including a school where Turner eventually came to as well. It was part of that settlement where the Nazrey AME Church was built, with that church having its last service in 1988, become a national historic site in 1999, and is still part of the Amherstburg Freedom Museum.

Labourers became merchants and opened businesses in that area, Kochaniec added.

Kochaniec also touched on Turner’s history, noting she spent over 35 years as a teacher at various schools, concluding in Sandwich sometime between 1880-1890.

“She owned lots of property in Windsor-Essex County,” said Kochaniec. “There are 19 known properties, likely more.”

The research done by Kochaniec also outlined settlements in Sandwich, now Windsor, and Colchester South, now part of Essex.

For more on the presentation, visit the museum’s YouTube channel. More information on the museum can be found at or by calling 519-736-5433. The museum is located at 277 King St. in Amherstburg.

Former intern speaks virtually on 19th Century Black settlements in Amherstburg

By Ron Giofu

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