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The Early Black Settlers of Stephenson County, Illinois, 1830-1930

Written by: Joyce Salter Johnson

Longtime Stephenson County resident Joyce Salter Johnson wanted to know more about her family history, and in 1994 she decided to write the story of the Salter family. But when she talked with her 84-year-old mother three years later, she found much more to the story.

“In my conversation with her I put some focus on her father, Milton Hayden, who had migrated to Freeport in 1916,” Salter Johnson revealed in an interview. “It quickly became apparent that my grandfather’s story was inextricably linked to those of others who had settled in Stephenson County. Curiosity drove me to research, analyze and retell these stories.”

Over a decade later, her efforts have led to two books, “The Early Black Settlers of Stephenson County, Illinois – 1830-1930” and a companion book, “A Pictorial History of Early Black Settlers of Stephenson County, Illinois – 1830-1930.” A grant from the Freeport Community Foundation helped in the publication of the first book, while the second was published because of the Stephenson County Historical Society’s Wurtzel Publication Fund.

 
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Photo by: Edna E. Jonson
Edited by: AZ Weiss
Cover design by:
Charles Williams