Freetown exists once more

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 22, 2005

ALLENVILLE-Freetown. A place you probably never heard of, but existed in your own backyard.

Located minutes outside of Gallion, the town disappeared into Allenville, Alabama when it was founded in the 1920s.

But on July 17, Freetown re-emerged and was placed among the ranks of other historical sites in Alabama.

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A marker now stands to tell the history of Freetown-a town founded by a group of African American men and women in 1867.

Demopolis historian Gwyn Turner and Dr. Richard Bailey made an appearance at the Bethlehem Baptist Church, in Allenville, to celebrate Freetown’s Historical Marker Dedication. Freetown residents helped organized the church, which used to sit on a hill above Highway 80 and is now on flat ground, in 1867.

According to a booklet from the ceremony, the town’s earliest residents were former slaves and free people of color.

Many of the area’s first African American women teachers came from the Freetown settlement.

Although the settlement became vibrant and prominent, as stated by the booklet, the population declined after World War II when residents migrated to the north and other southern cities.

Dr. Bailey said he is proud of the Collins and Jeffries families, descendents of Freetown’s founders, for the work they have done.

The two families can be sure their ancestors are proud of them as well.

The Freetown booklet can be purchased at the Bluff Hall gift shop. Bethlehem Baptist Church and the Freetown marker stand on the right of Highway 80 coming from Demopolis to Gallion.