Personal Histories

The Vermont African American Heritage Trail introduces visitors to just some of the stories of the people who made their homes in Vermont. These are some of the others.

Lucy Terry Prince

Lucy Prince stands out not only for her reputation as America’s first African American poet, but also for her determination and eloquence. Prince, a former slave, moved to Guildford with her family to establish a farm. However when her neighbors cheated the family, tore down their fences and destroyed their crops, she sought justice by traveling to the state capitol and speaking to Vermont Governor Thomas Chittenden. He ruled in her favor and instructed the town of Guilford to defend the Prince family. Later, in 1803 when facing a land dispute in Sunderland, Prince argued an appeal before the State Supreme Court and won against the two leading lawyers in the state. Prince was thus able to leave her land to her heirs when she died in 1821 at the age of 97.

Sister Eliza Healy

A well-known educator in St. Albans, Eliza Healy was born into slavery in Macon, Georgia, in 1846. When her parents – a female slave and her master – died, she and her brothers were sent to New York to be cared for by her older brother. After being baptized as a Catholic, educated in Quebec, and teaching in Canada, Healy was appointed to head a school in St. Albans. She later became the first African American mother superior of a Catholic convent.

Buffalo Soldiers in Vermont

In 1909, there were those in Vermont who waited with apprehension for the arrival of 750 members of the 10th Cavalry – an all-Black regiment – and their families. The total Vermont population of 826 African Americans would swell to more than 2,000 and out of ignorance some worried about the potential effect on the Burlington area where they would be stationed. But within just a year, after band concerts and baseball games, a patriotic parade was well attended when the Buffalo Soldiers (as the 10th Cavalry was known) left on maneuvers.

William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison was a prominent white American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. Best known as the editor of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, which he founded in 1831 and published in Massachusetts until slavery was abolished, Garrison established the Journal of the Times in Bennington in 1828, to support the re-election of President John Quincy Adams. Garrison lived from 1805 to 1879.

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