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Sheila Gregory Thomas

teacher, politician, and businessman, was born in Austin, Texas. His mother, Eliza, a slave of mixed race, was owned by John Hancock, a lawyer, judge, state legislator, and U.S. congressman whom Hugh knew to be his father. When he was five years of age and the Civil War was threatening, Hugh and his mother were sent by John Hancock to Oberlin, Ohio, a thriving community of whites and free blacks. This not only placed them in a safe environment but also guaranteed Hancock an education, as Oberlin College and its preparatory department welcomed all. For younger children there was the village elementary school.

Hancock was one of many offspring of white fathers and former slaves for whom Oberlin was a safe haven from the hostilities and limitations of life in the South Black residents of Oberlin in the 1800s included entrepreneurs teachers and elected officials ...


Benjamin R. Justesen

businessman and politician, born in rural Arkansas, was the slave son of his owner, John Havis, a white farmer in Bradley and Jefferson counties, and an unnamed slave mother. Most often known simply as Ferd, his name appears in some records as Ferdinand. After the Civil War, he was educated in Freedmen's Bureau schools in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he lived for the rest of his life.

A successful entrepreneur, Ferd Havis began his career as a barber, but quickly expanded his interests, eventually operating both a saloon and retail whiskey distributorship in Pine Bluff, as well as owning tenement houses and two thousand acres of farmland in Jefferson County. He married his first wife, Dilsey, in the mid-1860s, and they had one daughter, Cora; Dilsey Havis died in 1870. In 1871 he was elected to the first of five terms as a Pine ...


Timothy J. McMillan

businessman, saloon owner, victim of exclusion code, was one of the few African Americans living in nineteenth-century Oregon. He also has the distinction of being the only person in the territory of Oregon to have been found guilty of the crime of being black and to have been expelled from his home. Nothing is known about his family or childhood and the only official recorded trace of his history still extant is a legal case mentioned in a local newspaper in Salem, Oregon, and in the transcript of his trial. His name did not appear in the 1850 Oregon Census.

The forces of racism common in the eastern United States followed settlers on their journey to the Pacific coast. Vanderpool is almost totally invisible in Oregon's recorded history. Except for the work of Elizabeth McLagan his name scarcely appears in modern histories of African Americans or ...