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Underground Railroad Research Forum


My mother often told us about our ancestors, and their accomplishments in Pennsylvania. One person she always said she was related to was Matthew Henson. For anyone who does not know, Matthew Henson was a black man who explored the Artic region. Matthew Henson was born to free African American parents in Charles County, Maryland on August 8, 1886. In 1867 Matthew's parents sold their farm and moved to Georgetown, Maryland just outside Washington D.C.

When I began looking for information on relatives named Henson, I could not find any. It was not until 2002 that I discovered Hinson Village in Chester County Pennsylvania. The name had been changed, but this was our family connection to Matthew Henson. My mothers paternal Great Grandmother Susan Green, was probably the person who connected us to the Hensons of Maryland. We know little about her, except that she lived in Lancaster County Pennsylvania for a while, and than in Chester County.

We had a family reunion at Lincoln University in 2002, and that is when I met descendants of the Henson. They told me that the name had been changed, but we are indeed related to Matthew Henson. My mother said he was a cousin to one of her grandparents. They were free blacks who left Maryland, and settled in Chester County Pennsylvania. The connection to the Underground Railroad, is well known in the area.

There was an area known as Hinson Village, owned by a Free Black whose surname was Hinson. What is interesting to me is that even in it's own history, Lincoln University does not mention where the land grant came from. Yet they speak eloquently of the whites who endowed the University. I learned of Hinson Village from relatives at our family reunion. It was a community of Free Blacks, and frequent visitors were Harriet Tubman, and Fredericks Douglass. My mother says that the Church was a part of the Underground Railroad. I believe the Church is an AME church, and they still have services there.

The Hinson that owned the land deeded it to Lincoln University after he left, and settled in Canada. Many blacks felt that no freedom would be found for us in America. There is a church, and cemetery next to Lincoln University, and those buried in it, are relatives I did not know of. Their surnames are Hilton, Nocho, Hinson, and Hill, my mother often mentioned the Nocho, and Hinsons. The Nochos were our Native relatives, and I have corresponded with several Nocho relatives. They came from Pequea Valley Pennsylvania, which is located in Lancaster County.

The next project that I work on is going to be documenting the Underground Railroad in Chester County. I am going to take on the stops that Historians are ignoring. One of the problems with Historians I speak to is that they only look in books, for those who have already been acknowledged. There is no interest in finding, and documenting unknown historical figures. That is the most exciting part of history for me, documenting those who have been ignored, or left out of history. Documenting Underground Railroad figures is a daunting task, as many left no record. They left clues, and it is up to us to find the clues, and piece their story together.

I have quite a bit of information about Lancaster County in my book, Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color. The Christiana Resistance movement is covered, as is, Robert Pinn, my Great Grandfather, whom I believe was involved in the Underground Railroad movement. You will not find his name in history books, and that is why I included him in my book. He is one of the many unsung heroes of the Underground Railroad. I have no doubt that he was aware of Hinson Village, as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

I have included a link to my book below.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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