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New Philadelphia

New Philadelphia: An Archaeology of Race in the Heartland

Paul A. Shackel
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    New Philadelphia
    Book Description:

    New Philadelphia, Illinois, was founded in 1836 by Frank McWorter, a Kentucky slave who purchased his own freedom and then acquired land on the prairie for establishing a new—and integrated—community. McWorter sold property to other freed slaves and to whites, and used the proceeds to buy his family out of slavery. The town population reached 160, but declined when the railroad bypassed it. By 1940 New Philadelphia had virtually disappeared from the landscape. In this book, Paul A. Shackel resurrects McWorter’s great achievement of self-determinism, independence, and the will to exist. Shackel describes a cooperative effort by two universities, the state museum, the New Philadelphia Association, and numerous descendents to explore the history and archaeology of this unusual multi-racial community.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94783-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xxiv)
  5. CHAPTER 1 The Settlement of New Philadelphia
    (pp. 1-15)

    The founding of New Philadelphia in west-central Illinois by Free Frank McWorter is a compelling and heroic narrative about freedom and the entrepreneurship of an African American family. It is a story of an African American man who purchased his freedom and founded and registered a town, which developed into a multiracial community on the Illinois frontier before the Civil War. The town thrived for a while as a rural commercial center, and it later fought to survive in the post-Reconstruction era. The history and the archaeology of the place chronicle the community’s pursuit of freedom and its struggle to...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Expansion and Decline
    (pp. 16-29)

    Despite the strict 1853 Black Codes, which forbade the immigration of African Americans to Illinois, several landowning African American families moved to the outskirts of New Philadelphia and became prominent members of the community. In fact some of the heads of households were mentioned in short biographies in the 1872Atlas Map of Pike County, Illinois. For instance, theAtlasincludes John Walker, born enslaved in Louisa County, Virginia, in 1798. In 1834 he purchased his freedom for $300. Four years later the owner of his wife and children moved to Missouri, so John also moved to Missouri to be...

  7. CHAPTER 3 It Was Never Lost
    (pp. 30-45)

    In 1998 Jane Buikstra, now at Arizona State University, invited me to the Center for American Archaeology (CAA) to help the staff identify historic sites that might be of interest for a future research program. The headquarters of the CAA is in Kampsville, Illinois, in Calhoun County, adjacent to and south of Pike County. The area has tremendous prehistoric resources, as American Indians settled and exploited these rich riverine environments of the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. I have known Buikstra since 1979, when I participated in a field school that worked ahead of a road construction project for the development...

  8. CHAPTER 4 From Grass Roots to a National Movement
    (pp. 46-58)

    By the time we completed the walkover survey we realized we were at the beginning of something big. Artifacts found in discrete locations at the former town site were a good indication that archaeological remains could be found under the plow zone. The site was significant to the local community and descendants, and now it was potentially significant because of its archaeological value. At this point it was important to figure out a way to secure funding to do additional archaeology and research on the town.

    Since the incorporation of the New Philadelphia Association in 1996 the organization had tried...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The First Field Season
    (pp. 59-74)

    Each summer we recruited nine students from diverse backgrounds from around the country to work with us on the archaeology research project. The many interested members of the local community greeted us warmly. In 2004 and 2006 we had a staff of about fifteen people, including undergraduate and graduate students. In 2005 the number doubled as a University of Illinois field school joined the project for six weeks.

    There was an outpouring of support from the community. Everyone was excited that we would work toward developing a more in-depth understanding of the growth, development, and eventual demise of New Philadelphia....

  10. CHAPTER 6 Race and the Illusion of Harmony
    (pp. 75-91)

    Race and ethnic identity are charged with meaning and develop in different ways. Orser (2007:8) explains that ethnicity is created from the inside, whereas race is imposed from the outside based on perceived biophysical differences as well as cultural practices and religious beliefs and traditions. Racialization is the process of assigning people to groups based on physical or cultural characteristics, which helps create the perception of inferior or socially unequal groups. Racialization creates racially meaningful groups that previously did not exist. Those classified as “other” are seen as inferior to the group creating these classifications (Omi and Winant 1983:51; Orser...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Apple Festival and National Significance
    (pp. 92-109)

    After the first five weeks in the field in 2004 we received a tremendous amount of publicity related to the archaeology at New Philadelphia. We were settling into our five-week laboratory routine at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield when articles began to appear in national newspapers. Deborah Husar of theQuincy (Illinois) Herald Whigwrote several stories about our work in the field and in the lab. An Associated Press news release titled “Researchers Want Ill. Town Named Historic” was picked up by theBaltimore Sun, New York Newsday, theAtlanta Journal Constitution, and theSeattle Post Intelligencer, to...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Family Reunion and Division
    (pp. 110-124)

    In January 2005Smithsonian Magazineran an article on the archaeology project and mentioned how the notion of harmony had been miscast in the media. However, the New Philadelphia Association still supported the idea of a harmonious past, and through the summers of 2004 and 2005 newspapers increasingly picked up on this issue. Unfortunately the archaeology team was being saddled with the idea that harmony existed in the town. It was a perfect foil that created controversy between some of the descendants and the NPA, both groups with different views of the past. I felt as though we were caught...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Three Generations of Building and One Hundred Years of Living in New Philadelphia
    (pp. 125-150)

    The third field season began much like the first. Terry Martin zipped back and forth to the Springfield airport, picking up students. In the three years of our fieldwork students came from as far as Puerto Rico and as close as Barry, Illinois. Chris Fennell surveyed in a grid for Michael Hargrave’s geophysical work and we prepared for our orientation meeting with the students. We already knew that McWorter family members planned to visit the site toward the end of June.

    This field season furnished significant information that confirmed that New Philadelphia had at least three generations of building and...

  14. CHAPTER 10 A Case for Landmark Status
    (pp. 151-167)

    At the beginning of the third season in 2006 Terry Martin encouraged Vergil Noble, a National Park Service archaeologist, to visit the site. Noble coordinates and oversees National Historic Landmark nominations from the Midwest region. The NHL program has over 2,400 designated places, extraordinary places that have meaning for all Americans. We wanted to nominate New Philadelphia as a NHL because it provides archaeological information about the development and lifeways of a multicultural rural community. The high integrity of the archaeological record allows us to understand the community and the interactions among residents. It shows how people lived together in...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Some Thoughts, but Not the Final Word
    (pp. 168-182)

    New Philadelphia is about entrepreneurial success and freedom. However, when dealing with many different stakeholders, it is sometimes difficult to establish a coherent message for the place. Trying to change the way people remember the history of any place does not come quickly, nor does it come easily. Whether internally coherent or contradictory to the dominant view, memories validate the individual’s version of the past, sometimes by being selective about what is being presented to the public. The same historical and material representation may have divergent meanings to different audiences, and there can be competing interests that struggle to create...

  16. Appendix
    (pp. 183-188)
  17. References
    (pp. 189-204)
  18. Index
    (pp. 205-207)