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AfriGeneas States Research Forum

African Americans from VA & OH to IN & Canada

I'm beginning to wonder whether there might be more than a coincidental connection between Gabriel Strange, VA-born African-American household head in Cincinnati, OH, 1840-80 and another Canada-born Gabriel Strange in Indiana, 1850-60, especially in light of the following information from Ohio History web pages. (Also see the quote below from Marilyn Baily, "From Cincinnati, Ohio to Wilberforce, Canada: A Note on Antebellum Colonization," The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct., 1973), pp. 427-440.) Baily's article also may shed light on the presence of related antebellum African Americans with Strange surname in Ohio and Indiana.

Wilberforce was an African American community in Canada founded by people from southern Ohio.

In the early years of Ohio statehood, many Ohioans did not welcome African Americans to the state. Although Ohio did not allow slavery as part of its Constitution, many whites were afraid of economic competition from African Americans. As a result, the state legislature passed a series of "Black Laws" that limited black immigration into Ohio and placed significant restrictions on those African Americans who lived in the state.

In 1828, a group of white workers rioted in Cincinnati and attacked black neighborhoods. As a result of the Cincinnati riots, hundreds of African Americans left the city and moved to Canada, where they founded a new community called Wilberforce. They used their local churches to organize their efforts. Ironically, as Cincinnati factory owners saw many of their workers leaving the country, local authorities decided not to strictly enforce the "Black Laws."

The following quote is from Baily's article:

There is considerable evidence that from one thousand to twelve hundred black people left Cincinnati. It seems clear, however, that, contrary to most accounts, only a small proportion of people settled in Canada and only a very few of of these in Wilberforce. Others may have settled in other parts of Ohio or in Indiana.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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