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Southern Seed, Northern Soil captures the exceptional history of the Beech and Roberts settlements, two African-American and mixed-race farming communities on the Indiana frontier in the 1830s. Stephen Vincent analyzes the founders' backgrounds as a distinctive free people of color from the Old South. He traces the migration that culminated in the founding of the two communities. He follows the settlements' transformations through the pioneer and Civil War eras, and their gradual transition to commercial farming in the late 19th century. The Beech and Roberts story is at once part of and distinct from mainstream African-American history. Like other black Americans, the residents of these two communities had to struggle constantly to achieve freedom, autonomy, and economic well-being, yet they were able to defy the odds and thrive over several generations. Building on their advantages as late-18th-century landowners, they took root on the frontier and ultimately paved the way for their descendants' climb into the urban middle class.
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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Southern Origins, ca. 1760-18302. Migration to the Frontier, ca. 1820-18403. Pioneer Life, ca. 1830-18504. From Frontier to Mature Farm Settlements, 1850-18705. Settlements in Decline, 1870-1900ConclusionAppendix: The Southern Origins of 1840 Beech and Roberts Household HeadsNotesIndex

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The little-known history of free black farmers in the Midwest

Reviews

Vincent's book reflects a trend in US studies-'plowing' new interpretive ground-to ensure more inclusive ethnic and gender histories, with traditional interpretations revised.September 2000 * Choice *

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