Earlier this month, ISAS staff took part in the Historical Society of Brooklyn’s commemoration of Mother Priscilla Baltimore, a former enslaved person who in 1829 founded the first free Black town in Illinois—Brooklyn, formerly known as Freedom Village. Illinois State Archaeologist Tim Pauketat, collaborative research liaison Elizabeth Watts Malouchos, and graphic design manager Mera Hertel joined community organizer Roberta Rogers and members of the Historical Society of Brooklyn, as well as archaeologists Miranda Yancey, Joe Galloy, and Jeff Kruchten, at Mother Baltimore’s gravesite in the historic Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis and the Quinn Chapel in Brooklyn, featuring a new monument to honor the pre-Civil War abolitionist and the city’s founder.
In 2008, ISAS archaeologists worked with Quinn Chapel Elder George McShan, community organizer Roberta Rogers, and other citizens of Brooklyn, Illinois, to locate the archaeological remains of Mother Baltimore’s original homesite in Brooklyn and to preserve the historic landscape of the city. Besides being the first free Black town in the state, Freedom Village also served as a key link in the Underground Railroad by which formerly enslaved people made their way north to freedom before the Civil War. A 2014 ISAS excavation video delved more into this history:
Today, Yancey and Galloy are working with the Historical Society of Brooklyn to complete a district nomination of the historic town to the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more about Mother Baltimore and this event below.