Heritage, 2010, Volume 1 Page: 20
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REMAINS OF THE PAST
If one were to drive around Austin looking for
remains of freedmen communities, one of the
best is Jeremiah Johnson's triangular house on Red
River Street, now Symphony Square (see image
above). Jacob Fontaine's grocery store building
still stands on San Gabriel in what was Wheatville.
Clarksville has a few small batten board houses and
the Haskell House-the home of buffalo soldier,
Hezekiah Haskell-and an historical marker beside
the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church.
Small batten board houses, although rare and
hidden, still stand in the South Side area. The
Paggi House, a well-known Austin restaurant
on the south bank of the Colorado River, was
formerly the master's house on the Goodrich
Plantation. The Burditt's Prairie Cemetery and the
Barton Springs Cemetery mark the site of former
Many of Austin's street names hark back to
plantations and freedmen names, including:
Bouldin Avenue, Goodrich Avenue, Hancock Drive,
and Thomas Kincheon Street.
But perhaps the most amazing legacy of Austin's
freedmen are 12 churches that they established
just after the Civil War, which still exist today.
These historic congregations are: Ebenezer
Baptist, Friendly Will Baptist, Good Will Baptist,
Metropolitan A.M.E., Mount Olive Baptist, New
Hope Baptist, St. Annie A.M.E., St. Edward's
Baptist, Simpson United Methodist, Sweet Home
Missionary Baptist, Wesley United Methodist, and
Zion Rest Missionary Baptist.
for $317 from the owners, who lived in New York. The first people
to settle in the area (called Kincheonville and spelled with an e), the
Kinchions were eventually joined by other farmers of varying ra-
cial origins. 12
Several other rural communities were established by freedmen
in the countryside outside of Austin, but there is very little documen-
tation for them. South of the Colorado River, there were at least
two more freedmen settlements: Reyna Branch (1866) and Belle
Hill (1870). North of Austin, near where the University of Texas'
Frank Denius Fields are located, was an area called Horst's Pasture,
where it is said that freedmen lived on the edge of what was then
the Horst Farm. More information about these rural communi-
ties may possibly come to light in time, and additional freedmen
communities could also be discovered as historians continue their
So what is left of these freedmen communities? Although Austin is
a culturally aware city that values its history, little tangible evidence
of these neighborhoods remains today. The demise of these small
communities is due, in large part, to the implementation of a master
plan for the city in 1928. That proposal strongly encouraged African
Americans to move into a single area in east Austin, which would
be the only part of town where amenities (like parks, paved roads,
and street lights) would be provided. However, there remain several
important buildings, slave and freedmen cemeteries, historic black
church congregations founded by freedmen, and street names that
provide visible connections to the freedmen communities. In recent
years, local citizens have begun to document freedmen history and
to mark important sites by listing them with the National Register
of Historic Places, as well as acquiring Texas historical markers and
Austin landmark medallions.
Below: This cemetery is the resting place of many of the original settlers of the Burditt's
Prairie community, established after the Civil War.
HERITAGEN Volume 1 2010
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2010, Volume 1, periodical, 2010; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254216/m1/20/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.