Free Black Men

james black

A couple of weeks ago we looked at a will and inventory of Belinda, a free black woman of Montgomery County.  This week we have a deed from 1803 transferring property from John Davis and his wife Jane to James Black and George Chester, two free black men.


Purchased in May of 1803 for $126, the property consisted of nine acres and two perches (a unit of 16 1/2 feet by 16 1/2 feet) in Providence Township.  The deed describes the property as beginning by the Schuylkill, so it was probably in what is today Upper Providence.  The deed does not contain the men’s signatures.  The deed was written on parchment and was too long to fit all at once even on our oversize scanner.


Like Belinda’s will, this deed gives a small glimpse of African-Americans in early Montgomery County history. It’s possible that there are more records of James Black and George Chester waiting to be found in our collection.



  1. Although I forwarded your info about Bilinda to 2 friends who happened to be African-American (I thought they’d be interested), I didn’t hear back, nor do I see comments from them.
    I love history, but some people just don’t.
    As for the story of James Black and George Chester and the property they purchased, I suspect information like that is huge to the “roots” of African American establishment.

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