One hundred and twelve Black men, women, and children emigrated from Lowndes County Georgia to Liberia in 1871 and 1872, just 7 years after the Civil War. This was made possible with the support of the American Colonization Society. The emigrants were families of farmers, craftsmen, and laborers who left Lowndes County looking for a better life, one free of terrorism and racism. When the Union Army withdrew from the region during Reconstruction, the civil unrest was so bad that on June 30, 1869 a local citizen made a jaded plea for help in the South Georgia Times (now called The Valdosta Daily Times). ” The person stated, “Dead (expletive)! In this and neighboring counties. The land is literally strewn with deceased colored gentlemen. Every log has one behind it, ‘clay root’ conceals some half dozen, every gopher hole is trying to swallow; and has one half way down, every frog pond contains one or more… we need the military. These Ku Klux outrages must be stopped until the crop is gathered.”
The first group of 63 emigrants was headed by Jefferson Bracewell, a farmer and carpenter who was cited in the 1870 Census as having $6,000 of personal property. Aaron Miller, a farmer that owned 450 acres of land in what is now known as Hahira, Ga., led a second group of 59 people. The two groups settled in Arthington, Liberia. Liberia was founded by the American Colonization Society and former American slaves in 1822.
The Lowndes County settlers in Liberia prospered for a while then fell upon hard times. A number of the emigrants, including Jefferson and Aaron Miller, died from Malaria while others were killed in conflicts with the local population. There were some who fared well after this difficulty. Today descendants of former American slaves only make up 5% of the Liberian population.
Howard, Mark D. African departure: a history of the Liberian emigrants from Georgia in the Reconstruction era. (Masters Thesis), 1999.
“Departure of our Fall Expedition.” The African Repository. 47.12 (1871): 38-40.
“List of Emigrants for Liberia.” The African Repository. 47.12 (1871): 355-356.
“Departure of our Fall Expedition.” The African Repository. 48.12 (1871): 353-354.
“List of Emigrants for Liberia.” The African Repository. 48.3 (1872): 355-356.
“Local Melange.” South Georgia Times. 30 Jun. 1869.