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Free Black Communities and the Underground RailroadThe Geography of Resistance$
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Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038044

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038044.001.0001

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Rocky Fork, Illinois

Rocky Fork, Illinois

Oral Tradition as Memory

(p.21) Chapter 1 Rocky Fork, Illinois
Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad

Cheryl Janifer LaRoche

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines the Rocky Fork community's relationship to other nearby Black communities and to the Underground Railroad. Drawing on oral and family histories, it reconstructs the story of the African American presence at Rocky Fork, first by discussing the site's originating families. It then considers the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first social institution and the earliest AME church built in Illinois, and how the Underground Railroad emerged as a multi-pronged vehicle for Black resistance and escape from slavery. The chapter identifies evidence of cooperation between Black settlements on the frontlines of freedom and known abolitionist towns and shows that the abolitionist center and Underground Railroad town of Alton played a powerful role in the fight against slavery in the region. Minister William Paul Quinn and the early influence of the AME Church embedded in the Underground Railroad history of the Rocky Fork settlement and its free Blacks characterizes the geography of resistance.

Keywords:   escape from slavery, Rocky Fork, Underground Railroad, Black settlements, Black resistance, slavery, William Paul Quinn, AME Church, resistance, free Blacks

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