In this issue: Camptown (Washington County), an event at the Brenham Heritage Museum, announcing an event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum October 30, Black land updates, and more!

Freedom Colony Feature

Freedom Colony Feature: Camptown (Washington County)

African Americans founded Camptown on the east side of Brenham following the Civil War. Camptown was named for its proximity to the Federal troop encampment located there from 1865-68 to keep the peace during the early years of Reconstruction. The community grew and thrived and was the location of the first dedicated Freedmen’s school building in Brenham. Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church and St. John AME were among the churches established in Camptown. Camptown was also home to many Black-owned businesses.

Left: St. John’s AME Church in Camptown, Brenham. Right: a gathering at the church, undated.

A surveyed map of the Federal troop post dated July 1868 shows the Camptown Cemetery already in use, just north of the Washington County Railroad near Hog Branch. It was the final resting place of many of Camptown’s citizens, having an estimated 400+ burials. Over time, Camptown Cemetery became overgrown as other cemeteries for Black residents were established in Brenham. Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church has retaken an active role in the cemetery’s restoration and maintenance, assisted by other organizations working to document and maintain the cemetery, including the Brenham Heritage Museum and Texas A&M University. A group of descendants and church members worked with the Washington County Historical Commission to designate it a Historic Texas Cemetery in 2009, and it is now marked by a Texas Historical Commission marker.

Future plans include identifying and restoring markers and family plots, installing landscaping to enhance the cemetery, and installing fencing to protect and secure the cemetery.

Do you have more information about Camptown? Share your story!

Sources: The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas, Texas Historical Commission, Brenham Heritage Museum

Would you like your freedom colony featured in a future newsletter? Email us!

TxFCP News

Oral Tradition Workshop and Community Archive Drive at the Brenham Heritage Museum

Places may change, but memory persists – with the retelling of our stories, we keep our ancestors, communities, and heritage alive. We have been working with the Brenham Heritage Museum to collect, preserve, and share the stories of African Americans in Washington County in preparation for a new museum exhibit. With a basis in archival research, we were excited to co-host our first in-person event since COVID with the African American Content Committee of the Brenham Heritage Museum to hear stories and train participants to conduct topic oral history interviews. With all security precautions taken, our team could foster an environment where everyone felt welcomed, safe, and ready to share!

After a warm welcome and introductions, Dr. Andrea Roberts began her Oral Tradition Workshop. The workshop was an opportunity to learn documentation and interviewing skills and also an opportunity to connect with the stories of the participants and learn about Washington County freedom colonies. Participants practiced interview techniques using archival photos of Washington County’s people and places – it was rewarding when our participants began to recognize the places and faces in the pictures. Some participants had been to a church pictured or knew girls pictured at a 4-H demonstration. We learned about Washington County freedom colonies and that they call freedom colonies “additions” in Brenham. The workshop was filmed, and the TxFCP team is working to produce a training video for conducting oral history topic interviews – stay tuned!

Left (from left to right): Mrs. Helen Harris, Natearah Austin (standing), Cheryl Debera (standing), and Cheryl Mays. Right: TxFCP team members Joshua Brown and Jennifer Blanks digitizing materials at the event.

We also had our digitization station ready to assist participants who brought artifacts, such as photos, albums, scrapbooks, and other items. The TxFCP team members scanned the archival material to USBs – we retained a digital copy and they could take home a digital copy on USB and keep their original or share it with the Brenham Heritage Museum.

Our heartfelt thanks to all the participants who shared their time and knowledge with us and to the African American Content Committee and Brenham Heritage Museum for co-hosting a successful event!

If you have any pictures or items that you would like to share with the Brenham Heritage Museum’s African American Content Committee, you may contact Natearah Austin, Committee Chair at 713-409-4158 or and as always if you have more information about a freedom colony, please share your story with us!

What does The Texas Freedom Colonies Project do?

Connect & Collect placemaking and placekeeping stories and histories; Countermap and secure data from varied sources; and Co-Create using engaged applied research.

Learn More

TxFCP in the News

‘Everyone’s Story Matters’: Texas Freedom Colonies Project Challenges What Counts As An Artifact

Dr. Andrea Roberts and Schuyler Carter shed some light on community archives’ challenges and opportunities for African American history preservation. They discussed the importance of grassroots archives and educating the public that seemingly common or personal artifacts hold so much value to tell community stories. Everything that tells a piece of your family or community history, from recipes to school yearbooks, is an artifact to cherish and preserve.

Read and Listen

The quest to find African American graves before they’re lost to climate crisis

The Guardian featured TxFCP team member Jennifer Blanks, the lead researcher of our Texas African American Cemetery Registry, and TxFCP founder and director Dr. Andrea Roberts. The Registry, a participatory research project, is an effort to record the spatial patterns of Black cemeteries and the ecological and development threats facing these sacred burial grounds. The Registry is just the beginning of a broader effort to devise comprehensive mitigation and preservation planning solutions for all endangered cemeteries. Visit the registry & learn more about existing regulations and resources available to support cemetery recognition and protection.

Read More

Black Land Update: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Seeks Input

Deadline to comment is 5:00 pm Central Time TODAY Wednesday, September 15

Earlier this spring, the federal government authorized billions of dollars in funding for homeowners assistance. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) will receive $842,214,006 access to assist homeowners across the state who are struggling to pay their mortgage because of economic impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The purpose of the funds is to prevent mortgage delinquencies/defaults, and foreclosures, for homeowners experiencing financial hardship after January 21, 2020. Funds may be used for assistance with mortgage payments, homeowner’s insurance, utility payments like gas, light, and water bills, and other purposes.

TDHCA is currently seeking advice from the public on their plan to distribute these funds to Texas homeowners. This is an excellent opportunity for Texas homeowners to advocate for funding for title clearing assistance programs and outreach/education programs to help heirs’ property owners access the full homestead exemption. Read the draft Revised Homeowners Assistance Fund Plan here.

Currently, the plan includes a Reinstatement Program to eliminate mortgage loan delinquencies and prevent foreclosure by reinstating mortgage loans that are at least thirty days delinquent. Eligible homeowners are those at or below 100% of the median income for the United States.

Many Texas freedom colony descendants are vulnerable to foreclosure actions from partition sale because of the problems associated with clearing title to inherited property. This public comment period provides an opportunity to make your voices heard.

Public Comment Period ends: 5:00 pm Central TODAY Wednesday, September 15, 2021. Comments can be submitted by email; be sure to reference the Homeowner Assistance Fund. Comments received after 5:00 pm Austin local time on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, will not be accepted.

Written comments may be submitted, in hard copy/fax or electronic formats to: Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Attn: Texas Homeowner Assistance Fund P.O. Box 13941 Austin, Texas 78711-3941 Fax: (512) 475-4798 Email:

Be sure to reference the specific draft rule, policy, or plan related to your comment by name; in this case, the Homeowner Assistance Fund Plan.

Please be aware that all comments submitted to the TDHCA will be considered public information. You should avoid including any personal details or any information you do not wish to be made public.

TxFCP Events

The Texas Freedom Colonies Storyteller Project Event

October 30 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin

TxFCP and the Bullock Texas State History Museum will be hosting an event on October 30th in Austin as part of the The Texas Freedom Colonies Storyteller Project. The Texas Freedom Colonies Storyteller Project is a collaboration between The Texas Freedom Colonies Project™ and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Made possible in part by funding from the Whiting Foundation. Look for more information soon on social media and in our October newsletter!

Questions or comments? Email us! Thank you for reading!

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