Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone
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Banner headline Former Slave Dies



the 20th Century

Peter Brooks Hodge, a Formerly Enslaved
African American Resident


Significant numbers of formerly enslaved African Americans made their homes in central Pennsylvania in the 19th and 20th centuries. Some escaped enslavement and traveled north via the Underground Railroad before 1865. Many more found themselves no longer enslaved by war's end and looked north for job opportunites or to escape the harsh poverty and crushing racism of southern Reconstruction. The first few decades of the 20th century saw large numbers of southern Blacks moving north to take advantage of the plentiful jobs in northern industries.

Their presence in northern cities enriched each African American community. Their shared first-hand stories of lives enslaved broadened the historical perspective and served to counter the "Lost Cause" myths. Knowing which citizens were formerly enslaved is invaluable for modern historians and persons researching their family histories. Small connections can often add up to bigger stories. The news items below represent snippets in the lives of these persons.

Death Notice, February 3, 1915

Newspaper death notice of former slave Peter Brooks Hodge, 1915.

Text of news article:

  Peter Brooks Hodge Fell a Victim to Heart Trouble

  Carlisle, Feb. 3. -- Peter Brooks Hodge, colored, a prominent character in local life for four decades, died at his home on North Pitt street yesterday morning at 1:15 o'clock of heart trouble after an illness extending over a period of four months. He was 67 years of age and Carlisle's oldest barber.

  Mr. Hodge was born at Sheperdstown, Va., on the estate of Tyler Brisco, a southern planter, and spent his early life there. When hostilities broke out between the North and South he was compelled to serve as a butler to officers of the rebel army. Near the close of the conflict he succeeded in reaching the Union lines and during the closing months of the struggle was in the commissary of the Army of the Potomac. After the war he came to Carlisle.

Harrisburg Star Independent (Harrisburg, PA), 03 February 1915, p. 4.

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