Sunday, December 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Exhibit highlights Benicia’s African-American heritage

african american exhibit, 9/26/12

Elizabeth d'Huart, executive director of the Benicia Historical Museum, talks about the museum's new exhibit marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | September 28, 2012 |

BENICIA — One Solano County town’s African-American roots are on display as the Benicia Historical Museum honors the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Most people don’t realize that California was part of the Civil War, that there were slaves in the state,” said Benicia Historical Museum Executive Director Elizabeth d’Huart.

The exhibit commemorating the proclamation’s 150th anniversary opened Sunday at the Benicia Historical Museum and runs through January 2013.

Although issued as an executive order Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation Sept. 22, 1862, saying that he would order the emancipation of an estimated 3.1 million slaves in states controlled by the Confederacy if the states did not return to Union control by Jan. 1, 1863.

“The proclamation made the abolition of slavery a central goal of the war,” d’Huart said.

The exhibit’s name, “Freedom is a Hard Bought Thing,” was taken from a 1940 magazine short story written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stephen Vincent Benet, who lived at the Benicia Arsenal as a child when his father was commanding officer. The phrase was often quoted by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., d’Huart said.

The exhibit was originally planned for Black History Month in February, but the curators and volunteers could find very little material about African-Americans in early Benicia.

“There was a dearth of material,” d’Huart said. “We found very little pertaining to Benicia.”

Only persistent digging and a lot of help from the community created the exhibit, which ranges from photos of the African-Americans working in the arsenal during World War II to a shackle put on slaves “so that they could not run away undetected,” d’Huart said.

The exhibit will be an evolving thing, according to Curator Beverly Phelan, who said that as more about Benicia’s African-American history comes forward, “we will be adding to the exhibit as we go along.”

That could include information about the Buffalo soldiers, the black cavalry solders who were stationed in or near the Benicia Arsenal some time after the Civil War, Phelan said.

In 1850, Benicia listed only six African-Americans among its population of 480 people, one of whom was slave Adam Willis, who came from Missouri to Benicia with his owner, Singleton Vaughn. Willis also became one of the first free African-Americans in town when he was set free in a Benicia courtroom Sept. 27, 1855.

Another black resident was former Bear Flag veteran Joseph McAfee, who became a barber in Benicia and was part of a Western underground railroad that freed slaves in pre-Civil War California.

Among the artifacts is a Civil War uniform of the kind worn by the black soldiers in the Union Army during the Civil War, as well as post-war advertisements such as the one run in local newspapers by Benicia resident and freed slave Marion Willis, trying to find her children, who were taken from her as a slave.

“They published these heartbreaking advertisements all over the country, trying to pull their families back together,” d’Huart said.

Only with World War II and the migration of African-Americans to work at the Benicia Arsenal did Benicia’s black population significantly expand. Even now, Benicia’s black population is small; 1,510 black residents in 2010 among a total population of 26,997 people, according to the U.S. Census.

The museum will host a reading Oct. 14 by author Waights Taylor Jr. from his recently published book, “Our Southern Home — Scottsboro to Montgomery to Birmingham: The Transformation of the South in the Twentieth Century.”

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • antique furniture styleJanuary 26, 2013 - 8:22 am

    Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

New circulation director for Daily Republic has California roots

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Suisun’s transformation launched 25 years ago

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

 
AARP tax program seeks volunteers

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Holiday shopping continues after Christmas

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Kwanzaa educates, celebrates African-American heritage

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Rush Ranch plans birds of prey workshop

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Winter feeding of backyard birds

By Launa Herrmann | From Page: C4, 1 Comment

Weather for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Projects to watch in 2015

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

Market predictions for 2015

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
County graduates complete basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Dec. 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Shoppers brawl inside Northern California mall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Death penalty states unmoved by botched execution

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Arizona police officer, suspect killed in shootout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

 
School error takes money from staff bank accounts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Protester in St. Louis area charged with arson

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Spokesman: George H.W. Bush remains in hospital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

2 small planes collide in Maryland; no injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Lava creeps 15 yards closer to Hawaii marketplace

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

NYC officer mourned at funeral as tensions linger

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Drought, plastic bags prompt new California laws

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Final goodbye: Roll call of some who died in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

Del. WWII vet honored with medals 70 years later

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Snow, ice sweep Europe, stranding drivers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

N. Korea uses racial slur against Obama over hack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 2 Comments

 
Families take future war dogs into homes as foster pups

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

Woman uses quilt to help those in military

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
Wanted extremist leader surrenders in Somalia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Pilot recalls last flight to Cyprus airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

Redrawn districts made for some tight races

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Putin’s epic annual news conference, condensed

By Ishaan Tharoor | From Page: A8

Leaders fan flames of racial hatred

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 54 Comments

 
Sound Off: Dec. 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Bethel Community Church buys Temple Baptist site

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Why do we celebrate Christmas, part two

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3, 2 Comments

Comforting immigrants is nun’s mission

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Pope’s role in Cuba deal fractures Cuban-American flock

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

My son’s cat is being neglected and I don’t know what to do

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Blagojevich brother: I was fed ‘pawn’ to get then-governor

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Company loses bid for rights to Marvel superheroes

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Jonah Lehrer working on book about digital life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

No. 1 Kentucky holds off No. 4 Louisville 58-50

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Vanden’s Koss named 2014 DR Male Athlete of the Year

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Broncos see a much better Raiders team this time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cardinals have hopes of division crown, 12 wins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Warriors shake off skid, beat Timberwolves 110-97

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Authorities question Cubs’ Castro after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Browns suspend receiver Josh Gordon, Manziel late

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sports deaths: elegant Tony Gwynn, Jean Beliveau

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Cousins leads Kings past Knicks 135-129 in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Anze Kopitar leads LA Kings past Sharks, 3-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Sam: Coming out was right thing to do

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vikings stadium builders work on career highlight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Devils replace DeBoer with 3-headed coaching staff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Virginia Tech beats Cincy 33-17 in Military Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

S Carolina tops Miami 24-21 in Independence Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Arizona State beats Duke 36-31 in Sun Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Penn State tops Boston College 31-30 in OT in Pinstripe Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Kessler leads No. 24 USC to 45-42 win over Huskers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Jameis, Marcus and Mickey: Rose Bowl week starts at Disney

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Bowling report for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

First Step seeks players, help for 2015 season

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Devil Dawgs retiring after run of success

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

 
Top business stories of 2014: US grows, world slows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

BP appeals rejection of removing spill claims head

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Ruling opens door for cruise malpractice lawsuits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

6 US cities: Good jobs but hard-to-afford homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12, 1 Comment

 
Why areas with good jobs have hard-to-afford homes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12, 1 Comment

US company to open tuna cannery in American Samoa

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12, 1 Comment

 
.

Obituaries

Frances Cruz Pangelinan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Oriole Ernestine Cohen

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

John Benjamin Calvin Adams

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Rae Jean Malveaux

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Judy Zamora Rogers

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Concordia Albang Lichauco

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
.

Secrets of Success 2014

120 Years: Fentons still a treat after all this time

By Susan Winlow | From Page: SOS2, 1 Comment | Gallery

80 Years: Gillespie’s adapts to meet customer needs, thrives

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS5 | Gallery

60 Years: Ryan’s Automotive hits milestone of service

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS6, 1 Comment | Gallery

55 Years: Mary’s Pizza Shack keeps dishing the pies

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: SOS7 | Gallery

50 Years: Cal Yee Farms marks half-century – and counting

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS7 | Gallery

40 Years: Floors To Go weathers recession, bounces back strong

By Ian Thompson | From Page: SOS8 | Gallery

40 Years: Vaca Valley Auto Parts a Fairfield mainstay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: SOS9 | Gallery

35 Years: Vogelpohl prides herself as problem solver

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

35 Years: Medic Ambulance rolling strong

By Barry Eberling | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

35 Years: Scandia Family Fun Center roots run deep

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS10 | Gallery

30 Years: North Bay Pediatrics serves children, parents

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

35 Years: More than 1,700 home sales – and counting – for Watson

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

30 Years: Sportabout all about tennis – and shoes of all sorts

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS11 | Gallery

25 Years: It’s always showtime for Fairfield’s Finger

By Tony Wade | From Page: SOS12 | Gallery

25 Years: Feins helps build memories through Air Land & Sea Travel

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS13 | Gallery

20 Years: Quality breeds success for Universal Painting

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: SOS14 | Gallery

10 Years: By the People helps with basic, complex legal issues

By Susan Hiland | From Page: SOS15 | Gallery