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The Hill Community Project


Founded in 1788, The Hill is one of the oldest free African American neighborhoods in the United States still in existence today. Many African Americans in Easton and Talbot County were free from slavery long before the Civil War ended. Free people of color lived alongside white neighbors working as merchants, sailors, carpenters, midwives, and farm laborers. They worked to buy freedom for their relatives while pursuing full equality and liberty for themselves.

self-guided walking tour

The lives of the free black families of The Hill Community are rich and varied, and their stories are woven into the very fabric of the town. There are the people living in the shadows of history who invested their time and their passions into building families, churches, businesses, and civic organizations. Learn the stories of these courageous African Americans on The Hill Community Walking Tour.

People of the Hill

This early community of free African American citizens would have never been possible without the dedication of the leaders who inhabited The Hill.  You may have heard of Frederick Douglass, Bishop Alexander Wayman, and Rev. Charles Pullett.  But there were many others who played an important role in building The Hill. Learn the more the people who lived in The Hill Community.

Voices of The Hill

Members of The Hill Community Project team had the privilege of conducting oral history interviews  in 2014 with both current and former residents of the neighborhood. Listen as community members share their favorite memories of life on The Hill. Their stories will help shed light on what makes this place so special.

archaeology on the hill

Archaeology is the study of past cultures through the objects that people leave behind. These artifacts become clues to the experiences, beliefs, and values of those who have gone before. In a place like The Hill Community, which has long been omitted from the written histories of Easton and Talbot County, archaeology enables us to fill gaps in the written record.

Stop #1


When you arrive at the corner of Harrison Street and South Lane, stop for a moment and note the church at the end of South Lane. Asbury Methodist Church is one of the landmarks on The Hill, a beacon of freedom for African Americans throughout the centuries. You’ll learn more about this church at Stop 10.

The survey stone marked XXIII that sits by the white fence at the corner of Harrison Street and South Lane was placed here in 1786 to mark the corner of Lot 23. This was the location of the Friends School which was operated by the Quakers.

The rose brick house you see at 28 South Harrison Street was considered one of Easton’s grandest homes when it was built in 1790. Temperance Skinner lived here with her son Walter while employed by the Hambleton family. Like Temperance, many African American women throughout Easton’s early history worked as domestics.

Temperance (1850) and her sister Ann Eliza (1843) were born to free parents and were raised with four other siblings near Bloomfield Road outside Easton. The Skinner family was associated with the Joseph Bartlett family, steadfast anti-slavery Quaker elders.

While neither Temperance nor Eliza could read or write in 1870, they both negotiated for employment and living quarters from Easton’s most prominent professional families. Both young women used these positions to better their families over time. Eliza retired to keeping her own house by 1880. You can find out more about her life at Stop 9. Walter became a successful Chicago maître d’hôtel and inherited real estate from his Aunt Eliza.