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The 1867 Settlement Committee will host the 8th Annual Western Celebration on Saturday October 13, from 12 noon to 5:00P.M. at 117 Bell Drive in West Texas City. The event will involve good food and entertainment including a live 5-piece band featuring Roger Valentine and Michael Richards from Missouri City‚Ķplus The Perfect Sound Production by Jimmy gamble of La Marque. The program begins at 12:30 P.M. with entertainment starting at 1:30. For more information, call Vera Bell Gary at: 409-935-5219 or Clarisa at 409-939-1222. The 1867 Settlement Historic District is the only Reconstruction-era African American community in Galveston County. The Bell, Britton, Caldwell and Hobgood families, whose patriarchs were African American cowboys, pioneered the community, which was self-sustained for more than 100 years. The men survived the hardships of slavery, including being torn from their families during the Civil War to serve their masters on the battlefield and drive cattle for the Confederacy. When freedom came in June 1865, the men worked on the Butler Ranch in north Galveston County; some had been slaves of the Butler family. In 1867, they began contracting acreage from Judge William Jones with money earned by driving cattle up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. After the Civil War, Judge Jones set aside the only land in the county available for purchase by freedmen who could get testimonials from local businessmen proclaiming their good morals and work ethics. Many descendants of the original pioneers still reside or own property within the historic community boundaries, where trail rides and horses are common sights. Interpretative kiosks are located throughout the district. The oldest structure, the 1887 Frank Sr. and Flavilla Bell home, is being developed as a community. The story of the African American presence in Texas history follows the familiar script written for every other southern region in the nation: slavery brought most African Americans to the state. By the mid-1800s, slavery played an important role in Texas’ economic development and, in fact, enslaved African Americans comprised 30 percent of the state’s population by 1860. Freedom for the African American in Texas finally arrived on June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth, and the end of the Civil War. After secession and during reconstruction, federal intervention was required once again to insure the protection of civil rights in Texas, ushering in an era that saw African Americans helping the Texas economy recover from the Civil War, serving in the state legislature, and helping to guide the state toward a freer, more democratic society.

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