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Civil War Blog

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African American Population of the Lykens Valley Area, 1860

Posted By on May 25, 2013

The African American population as reported in the 1860 Census for selected areas of the Lykens Valley area is presented in today’s blog post.

In 1860, African Americans were enumerated in two “free” categories:  (1) Black; and (2) Mulatto.  These categories were combined in a category called “Total Free Colored.”

African Americans were not found as a significant percentage of the population in any of the communities in the Lykens Valley area.  Harrisburg (in Dauphin County), although outside the area of study of this Civil War Research Project, had a population of more than 13,000, with African American comprising  nearly 10% of that total.

The 1860 Census shows a concentration of African Americans in a stretch of communities along what is now Route 25 beginning with Gratz-Lykens Township, continuing east through Hubley Township, Hegins Township, through Tremont and ending at Pottsville.  This line of communities intersects the Tulpehocken Path that crosses the mountain from Berks County, continues through Pine Grove (where there is also a small concentration of African Americans), and crosses the Lykens Valley as is heads toward the Klingerstown Gap.  This gives some support to the theory that the Tulpehocken Path was one of the Central Pennsylvania routes of the Underground Railroad.  This route lacked the railroad “connections” that were found along the Susquehanna  River, but because there were no railroads on this route and because it was more rural and isolated, it may have been considered safer than the river route.

In looking at the Northern Central Railroad “river route” communities between Harrisburg and Sunbury, it is noticed that competitively fewer African American resided in those communities than in the more rural areas between Gratz and Tremont.  For example, Millersburg, a railroad junction, had only one African American resident in 1860.  See:  Lykens Valley Railroad at Millersburg.

Along the route of the Lykens Valley Railroad, very few African Americans resided.  Note that Washington Township (which included Elizabethville and Oak Dale, or Loyalton) had only two African American residents and Wiconisco Township and Lykens Borough had none.

The data tables below present the census information for selected areas of Dauphin County, Schuylkill County and Northumberland County:

 Dauphin County

Total

White

Total Free

Colored

 

Aggregate

Dauphin Borough

669

11

690

Gratz & Lykens Township

303

10

313

Halifax Township

1398

9

1407

Harrisburg

12084

1321

13405

Jackson Township

1111

12

1123

Jefferson Township

863

0

863

Lykens Borough

1269

0

1269

Middletown

2240

152

2392

Mifflin Township

1430

0

1430

Millersburg

960

1

961

Reed Township

433

1

434

Rush Township

111

0

111

Upper Paxton Township

1280

3

1283

Washington Township

912

2

914

Wiconisco Township

2522

0

2522

 

 Schuylkill County

Total

White

Total Free Colored

 

Aggregate

Barry Township

943

0

943

Branch Township

1585

1

1586

Foster Township

1331

0

1331

Frailey Township

1149

0

1149

Hegins Township

1072

30

1072

Hubley Township

527

11

538

Minersville

4023

1

4024

Pine Grove

2806

11

2817

Porter Township

360

0

360

Pottsville

9319

125

9444

Reilly Township

2891

9

2900

Schuylkill Haven

2916

11

2927

Tremont

1934

10

1944

Upper Mahantongo Township

782

4

786

 

 Northumberland Co.

Total

White

Total Free Colored

 

Aggregate

Jackson Township

717

0

717

Jordan Township

955

5

960

Northumberland

1100

8

1108

Shamokin

2147

12

2159

Sunbury

1793

10

1803

Readers are urge to comment on the significance of these numbers.

 

 


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