In this issue: Jakes Colony (Guadalupe County), Juneteenth, Freedom Colonies at NMAAHC, Transition FAQs, New Atlas Tutorials, and more!

Freedom Colony Feature

Jakes Colony (Guadalupe County)

Seguin, in Guadalupe County, Texas, is home to Jakes Colony, a freedom colony founded by Jacob Rodgers, a former slave. Jakes Colony was once home to 70 Black-owned working ranches. Today, the 152-year-old Wilcox Ranch is the oldest and last in the settlement. Jakes Colony was completely self-sufficient, with a Methodist Church, school, and community cemetery – Ridley Cemetery, formerly known as Jakes Colony Cemetery. The school had one teacher and seventy students in 1904. A new four-teacher school was built from 1920 to 1921- about three-quarters of the funding came from the Black community and one-quarter from the Rosenwald Fund.

Mar’lon Wilcox Moore, Lola Kelly Wilcox Moore, and Malcolm Moore at Ridley Cemetery in Jakes Colony on April 7, 2022. Photo by Josie Norris / San Antonio Express-News

The Wilcox Ranch is the oldest and last African American working ranch in Jakes Colony. The preservation of the ranch and the family heritage is being spearheaded by Wilcox & Moore Legacy Restoration Project, created by a fifth-generation Jakes Colony descendant. They have expanded their efforts by partnering with the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum (SAAACAM), the Witte Museum, the San Antonio International Airport, the First United Bank of Seguin to create different exhibits to share the story of some of the distinguished Black families of Jakes Colony. They were featured in an article in the San Antonio Express-News, and by The Texas Freedom Colonies Project as part of our 2021 Juneteenth Coffee Talk “Black Land and the Future of Freedom Colonies.” Ridley Cemetery will soon have an official marker from the Texas Historical Commission. Jacob Rodgers’ vision struggles to exist today – development and gentrification surround the community. Working together through research and land stewardship to solidify their legacy, the descendants of Jakes Colony are as inspiring as their ancestors.

Left: The Wilcox Ranch “Big House” (from RootsWeb); Center: the Wilcox Ranch on the 1919 Guadalupe County map (from Portal to Texas History); Right: Jakes Colony Road Sign (from RootsWeb).

Take Action! Add to the Atlas or become a TxFCP volunteer!

TxFCP Events

Juneteenth 2022

We’re looking forward to Juneteenth! Visit our list of in-person events in Texas and virtual events throughout the country at! Have an event to share with us? Email your event flyers to!

The Texas Freedom Colonies Project team members will be in St. John Colony in Caldwell County and Jefferson in Marion County for holiday events. Dr. Roberts will be in Virginia for a special Juneteenth event at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello: “Ascendant: The Power of Descendant Communities to Shape Our Stories, Places, and Future,” a descendant community recognition event that will be live-streamed online.

The History of Juneteenth: The Little-Known Story of the U.S. Colored Troops in Galveston

From the Juneteenth Legacy Project: “The Juneteenth story has become somewhat romanticized, a heroic tale starring Granger, the white Union general, as the lead protagonist. But organizations such as the Juneteenth National Observance Foundation have uncovered a little-known element of that narrative: the presence of several Union regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) that, by coincidence, marched into Galveston at the same time as Granger. These actions provided a powerful image to the island’s enslaved people, who were oblivious to the fact that they had been granted freedom by Lincoln two years prior.” Learn more here.

Want to learn more about the history and traditions of Juneteenth? Check out our Juneteenth Reading List.

Spread the Word!

Are you having a Juneteenth, homecoming, church anniversary, or other public event? Are you interested in sharing The Texas Freedom Colonies Project with attendees? Request a Red Envelope! The Red Envelope is a kit that contains postcards, the Saving Texas Freedom Colonies guidebook, stickers, hard copies of the Atlas survey forms, and a stamped envelope to send completed forms back to us. Just email us with your address and look for the Red Envelope in the mail!

“Texas Freedom Colonies” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

Live Broadcast on Saturday, June 11 from 11 am – 12:30 pm CT

Dr. Andrea Roberts will be speaking in person at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC, on Saturday, June 11. This program is part of NMAAHC’s Juneteenth programming and will be held in person at the Oprah Winfrey Theater and will also be streamed on all NMAAAHC streaming platforms. Visit the event announcement to add this to your calendar!

“Towards a People’s History of Landscape – Part 1: Black & Indigenous Histories of the Nation’s Capital”

This institute is being offered in June for the first time by Dr. Roberts and Thaïsa Way, Director of Garden and Landscape Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, and will convene at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. Roberts and Way created the Institute to bring scholars from across the United States (and disciplines) together to explore Black and Indigenous cultural landscape histories and narratives in the founding of the United States and the District of Columbia. This institute’s focus is identifying promising approaches to teaching “difficult” or marginalized landscape histories (including those of freedom colonies). Summer Institute will create an online repository of teaching modules that will be available to faculty around the United States. Learn more here.

TxFCP News

New TxFCP Website Pop-Ups: Our Guiding Principles and Research Participant Consent

When you visit our website, you will see two new pop-ups before accessing the home page – the consent to participate in research and the guiding principles. Because The Texas Freedom Colonies Project is a research study, we are overseen by an Institutional Review Board (IRB), a committee established to review research and protect the rights and welfare of research subjects. These permissions already existed and were made apparent on our survey forms and Atlas. However, we have decided to make that information more visible to website visitors. The guiding principles pop-up asks visitors to affirm the principles that guide our research – learn more about them here. Please review these principles and research consent the next time you visit our website!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

We’ve had a lot of great questions about the future of The Texas Freedom Colonies Project as headquarters transitions from Texas A&M University to the University of Virginia – we’ve put some of them, with answers, in the FAQ below! Read more about the future of the project at Expanding Black Space: The Future of Freedom Colony Scholarship & Advocacy and view the recording of our Virtual Open House event here. Please email us with ideas, suggestions, questions or to volunteer at

New Atlas Tutorial Videos

Ever wanted to search or share information in The Texas Freedom Colonies Project Atlas, but weren’t sure how? We’ve updated our tutorial videos to help you! Visit our new Atlas Tutorials playlist on YouTube to find all our tutorials, or click on one below to view!

Adopt-A-County Volunteer Workshop: Video Now Available!

Hello, volunteers! We have created an online space to organize and store your research materials as you prepare to input them in the Atlas – the Adopt-A-County Intranet. Learn more about it and research resources in our latest workshop video! Want to learn more about Adopt-A-County and find research resources? Click here.

Adopt-A-County Volunteer Workshop May 23, 2022 · The Texas Freedom Colonies Project

TxFCP at the Aya Symposium

The 2022 Aya Symposium in Dallas and online was a great success! The 2022 Aya Symposium, whose overarching purpose is to serve as a vehicle for the “multidisciplinary exploration of Texas Freedom Colonies,” chose to focus on the intersection of race and gender to uncover the untold stories of female heroines, strategists, and organizers within Texas Freedom Colonies. The keynote speaker was historian Dr. Daina Berry. The Texas Freedom Colonies Project was represented in person by team member Jennifer Blanks and volunteers Gloria Smith and LaDonna St. Julian-David, who won the drawing for free attendance at the conference! We are already excited for the 2023 conference. Thank you to the organizers, panelists, workshop leaders, and speakers!

Left: Jennifer Blanks and LaDonna St. Julian-David. Right: Jennifer Blanks and Gloria Smith.

Preservation Resources & Opportunities

“The Dichotomy of Purple Hull Peas” Lecture

Wednesday, June 22 at 6 pm Central on Zoom – Register here!

The purple hull pea has been part of African American culture and heritage for over one hundred years. It served to sustain families long before its nutritional analysis was fully understood. Used primarily in the southern United States, the pods and seeds were initially eaten by the enslaved and were also used as a forage crop for livestock, earning them the name “cowpeas.” The seeds eventually grew more popular in home cooking after the Civil War and became a staple in traditional, southern holiday meals.

Dr. Clarence Bunch’s presentation will share the communal value of purple hull peas in relation to the African American community. Dr. Bunch currently serves as the Agriculture Natural Resource Program Leader for Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) College of Agriculture and Human Science (CAHS) Cooperative Extension Program (CEP).

We hope this presentation will inspire you to check out the Texas Purple Hull Pea Festival on June 25! Started in 2014, the festival celebrates agricultural and food traditions of the Southeast Texas region, more specifically the historic Shankleville community in Newton County.

Preservation Job Opportunities

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is hiring multiple positions with the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund; many are remote opportunities! Applications will be reviewed soon, apply today!

Freedom Colonies in the News

Decades after Texas took part of its historic farm, a family fights again to save its land from a highway expansion


The Alexander family farm and cemetery just outside Austin city limits sit right next to U.S. Highway 183, which Texas plans to expand. The Texas Department of Transportation used eminent domain in 1968 to forcibly buy 5 acres of the family land to put in the highway, which cut off what had been the entrance to the farm and left a portion of the property isolated on the other side of the road. Decades later, history is threatening to repeat itself – but this time around, Rosalind Alexander-Kasparik is determined to see a different outcome.

Fourth Ward group fighting to save historic home, use property as path to affordable home ownership

Houston Chronicle

“Amid the various townhome and condo construction projects springing up in the historic Fourth Ward neighborhood of Freedmen’s Town, a conservancy group is working to keep a 102-year-old home from being demolished.”

Coming home to freedom in East Liberty

San Francisco Bay View

A profile of the community of East Liberty (Shelby County) and its history. “Since its founding, the people have followed a fundamental rule: Don’t sell your land outside the community.”

Deep Ellum featured in new publication: “Integrity as Process and Feature: Cultural Landscapes of Underrepresented Communities”

In a new article published in the preservation journal, Change Over Time, authors Robert Z. Melnick, Andrea Roberts, and Julie McGilvray use case studies to illustrate how current National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) integrity evaluations lack cultural and environmental literacy and how this practice marginalizes, erases, or ignores minoritized groups’ heritage. One of the case studies is Deep Ellum, a freedom colony, in Dallas. Contact us for access to this publication.

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