Fun Fact: The First Communities of Free Blacks in the State Are in These Counties

The San Domingo Community in Wicomico County and The Hill Community in Talbot County are believed to be the first and oldest settlements of free Black people in the state.

wicomico seal and map

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the slave trade was still strong, and most free Blacks still lived on property owned by others. Nearly a half-century before the Civil War, the founders of San Domingo owned and tended land; built businesses, churches, and schools; and raised families. Descendants like Newell Quinton, still live and work the land just as his grandparents and great grandparents did over the last two hundred years.

Talbot seal

Similarly, The Hill Community was established nearly 80 years before the end of the Civil War.

Members of The Hill Community Project have combed through land ownership records and found that free persons of color purchased plots as early as the 1780s. They have learned, for example, that a formerly enslaved woman named Grace Brooks purchased land in 1792, making her the town’s first free, female, and African American landowner.

Do you have a fun fact to share about your county? If so, please send it to Allison Valliant to be featured in MACo’s weekly Fun Fact on Conduit Street.