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a book about Harrisburg...

by George F. Nagle


Table of Contents

Study Areas:



Free Persons of Color

Underground Railroad

The Violent Decade

US Colored Troops

Civil War



A work of this scope would never have been possible without the kind assistance of many people who are dedicated to the preservation of Harrisburg area history. I am particularly grateful to Calobe Jackson, Jr., Barbara B. Barksdale, Eric Ledell Smith, and John Weldon Scott for a treasure trove of Harrisburg black history stories, data, and information, and for clues to additional sources. Regrettably, Eric Ledell Smith and John Weldon Scott are no longer with us, but their legacy of local history books and stories continue to enrich our lives today.

Others who have contributed valuable information and have aided my understanding of particular areas include Tim Niesen for information on the Chester family of Harrisburg; Carl Dixon of Fort Hunter, for a detailed diagram of the Fort Hunter African Burial Ground, and for information on the slaves held by Archibald McAllister; Gregg F. Freyseth, for a copy of Richard McAllister’s letter to Real Frazier; Michele Garcia, for photocopies and transcriptions of the Harrisburg 1821 Registry of Free Colored Persons; Janet Taylor, for information on black Civil War vets in Cumberland County, and for copies of primary documents relating to the kidnapping of blacks in Cumberland County; Randy Harris, for a gold mine of Lancaster County information, and for a map of the Africa settlement in Franklin County; Chris Catalfamo, of the Indiana County Historical Society, for First of August sources; and Christopher Densmore, for a wealth of UGRR sources, data, and tips.

Historians who have supported this writing project for many years, and who have contributed moral support and advice, in addition to information, include G. Craig Caba, for Pennsylvania anti-slavery and Underground Railroad data, information and stories, a tour of Gettysburg area UGRR sites, and for sharing artifacts of the Wert collection; Debra McCauslin and Alisha Sanders, for information on Adams County enslaved and free persons of color; James Schmick, of Civil War and More, and Robin Lighty and Larry Keener-Farley, of the Camp Curtin Historical Society and Civil War Round Table, for Harrisburg area antebellum and Civil War information.

All of the facts, data, and information in the world will not produce a completed manuscript without the will to forge ahead and finish. For that unflagging support and encouragement, I will be forever grateful to my coworker at SciTech High School, Kevin Varano, but most particularly to my wife, Amy, daughter Sarah, and son Jonathan. Thank you all.

George Nagle, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, August 2010.

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Caution: Copyrighted material. Published September 2010.

© 2010 George F. Nagle



This is the first in a series of books from the Afrolumens Project. Drawing on a large number of sources, and making good use of the treasure trove of information on the pages of the Afrolumens Project, this is the first truly comprehensive history of Harrisburg's African American community.

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