In this issue: Pilot Knob (Travis County), upcoming event at the Bullock Texas State History Museum October 30, new preservation resources, and more!

Freedom Colony Feature

Freedom Colony Feature: Pilot Knob (Travis County)

Pilot Knob in southern Travis County is located near a hill of the same name that is the eroded cone of an extinct volcano. The settlement is anchored by the Collins family and the Alexander family farms.

The Collins family came to Pilot Knob in 1891 when Newton Isaac Collins, a formerly enslaved carpenter, traded land he owned in East Austin for 500 acres at Pilot Knob. Newton Isaac Collins helped to establish a school, a Methodist church, and a cemetery. He divided his land between his children, and members of the Collins family still own a significant portion of Pilot Knob.

The Collins family property in Pilot Knob was recognized by the Texas Family Land Heritage Program, a program honoring farms in continuous family cultivation for 100 years or more. The schoolhouse constructed by Dee Gabriel Collins was replaced with the Pilot Knob Rosenwald School in 1930-1931 and sadly burned to the ground in 2016.

Daniel Alexander purchased land from his former enslaver Thomas McKinney in southeast Austin shortly after emancipation. He was a successful farmer, horse trainer, and breeder, and he and his descendants had success in dairy farming and blacksmithing. The property has been in the Alexander family for over 140 years and is recognized by the Texas Family Land Heritage Program. It is said to be the fourth-oldest family farm in Travis County.

In recent years, the Austin area has boomed with new development, and acreage devoted to farming and ranching has decreased by over 50%. In Pilot Knob, developments now border agricultural property. Recently, a new elementary school was named in honor of Newton Collins.

Do you have more information about Pilot Knob? Share your story!

See the TxFCP News section below for preservation news from Austin freedom colonies

Sources: The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas, Travis County Historical Commission African American Settlement Survey, “Crops to Cul-de-sacs

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

TxFCP Events


October 30 at the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin

TxFCP and the Bullock Texas State History Museum will be hosting a conversation and workshop on local and statewide African American placemaking heritage on October 30th at 12:00 pm!

This event will bring together Texas Freedom Colony descendants, local museums, and archivists to highlight the history of African American settlements in Texas and explore strategies for documenting these histories. Join us to learn more about freedom colonies, learn how to conduct oral history interviews, and digitize freedom colony-related photos and other materials.

The event is a collaboration between The Texas Freedom Colonies Project™ and the Bullock Texas State History Museum and made possible in part by funding from the Whiting Foundation.

Learn More and RSVP

TxFCP News

New Preservation Resources on our Website

Are you looking for help to preserve a special place? “Protecting African American Historic Places in Texas: A Community Legal Toolkit” from The University of Texas School of Law Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic and the Texas African American Cultural Heritage Council is now available on our website. The toolkit includes a breakdown of state and federal designations and marker programs, demolition delay ordinances, tax benefits, and more.

Supporting freedom colonies’ community resilience is our mission, and having resources like this available on our website is one way we serve freedom colony descendants and advocates. We continue to add more resources to our growing website to assist you!

Partnerships, Collaboration, and Volunteering

We invite you to join us as we protect, preserve, and develop applied research solutions for historic African American communities in Texas!

There are a number of ways you can collaborate, engage, learn and grow with us. Please fill out this form to get in touch with The Texas Freedom Colonies Project team if you want to explore grant and research support or collaboration, volunteering, or need a referral to architects, preservationists, public agencies, and conservationists. We look forward to hearing from you!

Historic Montopolis Negro School Rehabilitation Project Seeks Public Comment

The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) will host two opportunities to learn about and explore the history and future of the Historic Montopolis Negro School – a virtual meeting on October 27th and an open house on November 6. Learn more about the project and the events here.

“Clarksville demolition cases reveal challenges faced by preservationists”

An article in the Austin Monitor details the challenges as the Historic Landmark Commission faced two demolition permit applications and the challenge of achieving local historic district status in the face of new laws.

Free Film and Video Digitization Opportunity

The Texas Film Round-Up provides FREE digitization for Texas-related films and videotapes in exchange for the donation of a digital copy of the materials to A partnership between the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) and the Texas Film Commission, this program has served thousands of individuals, businesses, and cultural institutions since 2008. Learn more.

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