Shankleville—an east Texas freedmen’s community—is named for Jim and Winnie Shankle, who are known as the first blacks in Newton County, Texas to buy land and become local leaders after Emancipation. Both were born in slavery: Jim in 1811, Winnie in 1814. After Winnie and her three children were sold to a Texan, Jim ran away from his Mississippi owner. He traveled by night, foraged for food, traversed waterways including the Mississippi River, covering 400 miles on foot en route to Winne’s plantation home in East Texas. At dusk one day, Jim found Winnie beside her master's spring. After surreptitiously bringing food to Jim in the forest for several days, Winnie told her master about Jim’s journey. Winnie’s master immediately arranged to buy Jim. The couple worked side by side, bringing up Winnie's children and six of their own: George Washington (Wash) Rollins, Tobe Perkins, Mary Rollins (McBride), George, Henry, Houston, John, Harriet (Odom), B. M. (Lewis). In 1867, they began buying land, and with their associate, Steve McBride, eventually owned over 4,000 acres. In their neighborhood were prosperous farms, churches, a cotton gin, grist mills, sawmills, schools-- including McBride College (1883-1909), built by Steve McBride. Jim and Winnie Shankle are buried in Jim Shankle Cemetery.
Today, Jim and Winnie’s descendants celebrate Shankleville’s history during annual homecoming events, which have been held since 1941. In addition, the community recently developed The Purple Hull Pea Festival, an annual symposium and festival that celebrates the legacies of Freedmen’s communities and their significant historical importance for Texans. For more information about the history of Shankleville and the community’s events, visit the Shankleville Historical Society’s website at the following link: http://www.shankleville.org/.
Watch the videos below to learn more about Freedmen's Communities in Texas and Shankleville’s Homecoming celebration. These videos were 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