Sunday, November 23, 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

Fairfield-Suisun sits between bay, valley

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 9 Comments | Gallery

 
Teens at Boys & Girls Clubs get their own place

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Salvation Army gets ready for Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New mobile office adds reach to The Salvation Army

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1

Time to start a local hall of fame

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 2 Comments

 
Conservancy plans Quail Ridge Walk in December

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Film festival brings people together for good causes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Advance preparation mitigates frost damage

By Kathy Low | From Page: C4

 
Sudden Infant Death awareness and prevention

By Susan Whalen | From Page: C4

Weather for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
 
Two injured in Fairfield shooting

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A12, 7 Comments

.

US / World

Storms raise hope in California drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Gambling nuke commander linked to fake poker chips

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Winners and losers under Obama’s immigration plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
WWII mementos found in suitcase at thrift store

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Kohler introduces odor-eating toilet seat

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

Civic group: No Ferguson grand jury decision yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Pregnant woman, 3 others fatally shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hawaii airline tells pilots to return $4,000 bonus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

 
Dogfighting thrives in years since Vick case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Man sets house on fire, kills responding deputy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Report: Washington toddler shot playing with gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Official: SD man kills 4, including self, wounds 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Pope meets with autistic children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Biden announces new aid for Syrian refugees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
AP sources: Obama broadens mission in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Somalia’s al-Shabab kills 28 non-Muslims in Kenya

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

 
Kerry says gaps remain in talks about Iran’s nukes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Japan earthquake collapses homes, causes injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Iraqi forces, Islamic State group battle in Ramadi

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

 
State Capitol braces for budget battle

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Act of kindness at Raiders game

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Give the gift of gratitude this holiday season

By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3

 
Buddhist community builds shrine in Pineville yard

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Caught up in the spirt of the music

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes for Nov. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Hackers can get into everything, including your camera lens

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
Library project puts 50 years of yearbooks online

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6, 1 Comment

Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Graphic novel teaching history at Mississippi schools

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lamott offers healing words in ‘Small Victories’

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Eddie Izzard has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Whoopi Goldberg writing book about marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Bryan Cranston reads profane hit nursery rhyme

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

49ers host Redskins looking for third straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cousins lifts sluggish Kings over Wolves, 113-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanford routs rival Cal 38-17 in 117th Big Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sacramento State downs UC Davis 41-30

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants World Series exhibit goes on display Monday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vermette nets winner for Coyotes vs. Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Green says he’s ready to return to lineup for Broncos

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bills practice in Detroit prepping for Jets game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
No. 4 Duke tops Stanford to win Coaches vs Cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vacaville Christian’s Kenyon voted Sierra Delta League MVP

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Suzy Whaley becomes 1st female officer at PGA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvard beats Yale 31-24 in The Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Oklahoma’s Perine runs for record 427 yards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Rivalry 150 goes to Lafayette, 27-7 over Lehigh

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bowling results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Bocce results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Bicycle racing for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Granada clings to 1-shot lead at LPGA finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Swiss lead France 2-1 in Davis Cup final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Businesses cash in as women chase bigger butts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Tips on getting deals during Black Friday blitz

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Most US unemployed don’t get benefits: Here’s why

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

At a Glance: Pros, cons of mobile-payment systems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
Review: No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Recalls this week: strollers, candles, chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Arthur Irving Weiner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Norah Dean

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Florentina R. Dulay Florendo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Albert M. Ranzani

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics