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Related Categories: California | Central Valley | Racial Justice
Remembering and Preserving the Black Church in Gold Rush California
by Khubaka, Michael Harris
Tuesday Jan 2nd, 2018 10:09 PM
High above the confluence of the North and South Fork of the American River Basin, Negro Hill, California was an amazing Gold Rush era Black Agriculture community where some residents had enslaved experience farming, escaping “previous condition of servitude” in the deep south and other residents were born free in the New England region of America had high culture and cognition of Ancient African wisdom. What was common and consistent today, was a belief in GOD and regular church attendance.
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California is named after Queen Califia who battled Hernan Cortes and his pact with the Roman Catholic Church. The Spanish quest to obtain the riches of this amazing land, in in 1535, is seen as part of the mural in the largest room in the California State Capitol, the historic California Room.

During the Age of Sail, removing the notion that the world was flat, and much later the Gold Rush brought people of African descent to the wealthiest part of the Gold Mining District.

High above the confluence of the North and South Fork of the American River Basin, Negro Hill, California was an amazing Black Agriculture community where many residents had excellent agriculture experience, just escaping “previous condition of servitude” in the deep south and others who were born free in the New England region of America had high culture and cognition of Ancient African wisdom.

William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr., “the African Founding Father of California” owned 35,500 acres along the American River that included the town of Negro Bar, today City of Folsom and City of Rancho Cordova, was the first U.S. Diplomat of African descent, who financed economic expansion throughout Northern California.

Downstream, 25 miles near the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Daniel and Henrietta Blue established the first Black Church west of the Mississippi River today’s St. Andrews AME Church that continues to follow early Methodist traditions.

The first California Governor Peter Burnett, in his inaugural message proposed to export all people of African descent out of the State of California, “they will forever be a scourge upon our society.”

Those values and beliefs of “white supremacy” remain an essential component of the California story and the reason 36 grave markers once read, Unknown, moved from Nigger Hill Cemetery, by U.S. Government in 1954, finally removed in the 21st century after long and difficult journey.

The golden legacy of the financial hub of the Gold Mining District of Negro Hill, California is essential to understanding 1840 – 1875. The town surpassed the size and scope of any town in the region and is a success story to preserve and quantify the lessons shared by people of African ancestry with today’s youth who have and will matriculate at Stanford University.

During the U.S. Civil War, Negro Hill was redistricted from Placer County into the boundaries of El Dorado County, or the Gold County in the Spanish language, something to consider in the coming U.S. redistricting effort after the 2020 Census.

For over 300 year’s California was part of the Spanish colony, part of the vast Alta California, that included legal slavery under the religious and military authority of the Spain authority based in Cuba.

The gold, agriculture bounty and transportation opportunities along Coloma Road supplied vast amounts of venture capital that helped finance the Underground Railroad throughout the United States of America and the African diaspora.

California Black pioneers created a new generation of Black Abolitionist building upon the tradition of David Walker, Fredrick Douglass, Biddy Mason, Nancy Gouch, Sylvia Stark and most importantly Mammy Pleasant, “the Mother of Civil Rights in California” who personally travelled back to the Deep South in before, during and after the U.S. Civil War.

Today, “hidden figures” and members of the Black Church in Gold Rush California remains an open secret best understood by ongoing challenge preserving 36 grave markers once marked as, “Unknown, moved from Nigger Hill Cemetery, by U.S. Government in 1954.”

A new generation of Black Farmers and Agriculturalists must help restore the historical traditions and preserve the early legacy the Black Church along the American River Basin, the Historic Coloma Road Trail.