The Colored Freedom Settlement

In contrast to other black communities like the Roberts Settlement, Lyles Station, or the Beech Settlement, I can find precious little about the Colored Freedom Settlement.

I first encountered this settlement when I stumbled across Ida Hagen  and Dr. Aloysius “Alois” Wollenmann on a trip to Ferdinand, Indiana. I saw an image of Ida Hagen associated with the Colored Freedom Settlement in the Dubois County Historical Museum. I read about Hagen’s work with Dr. Wollenmann. As I researched Hagen, I found tantalizing tidbits about the settlement. Will-o’-the-wisps really. The settlement is mentioned in passing but seems to have disappeared over time.

In 1840, Emmanuel Pinkston Sr., a freed slave from Georgia, founded the settlement. According to an 1850 census, Emmanuel lived there with his wife and six children. He bought land numerous times: 1857, 1870, and 1871. In 1875, he set aside land in the settlement for a church and a school.

The settlement was home to many different families, including a Ben Hagen, the father of Ida Hagen. Ben lived on a farm next to Emmanuel’s at least as early as 1874. Hagen grew tobacco and watermelon, and was a minister at the Missionary Baptist Church. In 1939, he passed away. His funeral is immortalized in a poem by Nobert Krapf.

Following Ben’s death, it seems that the settlement itself was not long for this world. Larkin Pinkston, the last remaining member of the settlement, died in 1940.

The Huntingburg Conservation Club is now located where the settlement once stood. The Pinkston-Hagen cemetery must still exist. I found a 2013 article that spoke of Uebelhor family members locating graves and preserving the cemetery. But where exactly it exists is a mystery to me.

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