The 1867 Settlement Historic District is the only Reconstruction-era African American community in Galveston County. The Bell, Britton, Caldwell and Hobgood families, whose patriarchs were African American cowboys, pioneered the community, which was self-sustained for more than 100 years. The men survived the hardships of slavery, including being torn from their families during the Civil War to serve their masters on the battlefield and drive cattle for the Confederacy. When freedom came in June 1865, the men worked on the Butler Ranch in north Galveston County; some had been slaves of the Butler family. In 1867, they began contracting acreage from Judge William Jones with money earned by driving cattle up the Chisholm Trail to Kansas. After the Civil War, Judge Jones set aside the only land in the county available for purchase by freedmen who could get testimonials from local businessmen proclaiming their good morals and work ethics. Many descendants of the original pioneers still reside or own property within the historic community boundaries, where trail rides and horses are common sights. Interpretative kiosks are located throughout the district. The oldest structure, the 1887 Frank Sr. and Flavilla Bell home, is being developed as a community museum.
Watch the following video to learn more about Freedmen's Communities in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in the African Americans in Texas mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. For more information about the mobile tour and African American cultural heritage in Texas, visit the African American Heritage theme page at the following link: http://texastimetravel.com/travel-themes/main-african-american-heritage