The Black Pioneers of Wellington County, Ontario
By the 1850’s, there were several Black pioneer communities that had formed in Ontario by people of African ancestry. Three of these Black pioneer settlements were formed in Wellington County.
The first one, the Pierpont Settlement or Garafaxa community was located near the town of Fergus. As a result of their fighting for the British during the American revolution, Richard Pierpont and some other Black soldiers, were granted their freedom and land in Wellington County.
In 1829 Paola Brown, of Cincinnatti, along with a group of other free Blacks founded the second Black settlement in Wellington County “Colbornesburg”.
Another tiny settlement was the Conestogo settlement in Woolwich (pronounced (Wool ich) Township. The majority of the Black settlers in Wellington County did not live near to towns or close to cities. They mostly lived on far separated farms and homesteads.
As time went on, not officially owning the land they had cleared and farmed and despite ongoing efforts to secure their rights to the land where they toiled, worked and farmed, many left the community.
The children of the early settlers sought larger cities and towns to pursue their education, and seek new opportunities in towns in Ontario, like Owen Sound, and Collingwood.
And when the Civil War started in the United States, many of their sons, left the province to fight for freedom on the union side.
Large family gathering in County Title: We are here
Wallenstein Railroad Station
Reverend Addie Aylestock as a young girl.
Cromwell Lawson family formal photograph: Title: Sunday Best - Donated from Eleonara Pearce
Richard Pierpoint died in 1838.
Although he had not returned to Senegal as he had wished, before he died, Richard Pierpont had fulfilled his contract with the government.
The Black Pioneers of Wellington County successfully overcame great obstacles. They cleared acres of land under severe and often harsh and dangerous conditions.
They built homes and buildings and cut roads through dense bush and forest.
They saw the value of education and set out to ensure that their children had equal opportunities to learn and succeed.
Family gathering with Rella Aylestock Braithwaite - first girl on the left. Sister Dorothy Aylestock Henry on right 1931
Photo from Ken Miller- year unknown