History of Free Frank: Epilogue
|Mr. McWorter was a live, enterprising man, a reputable worthy citizen, kind, benevolent and honest. He labored hard to free his posterity from the galling yoke of southern slavery.1
The 1850s marked an end to the saga of Free Frank-an Afro-American freedom fighter, a man who struggled a lifetime to liberate his family, determined that they would be free. Even after his death in 1854, Free Frank's determination and the intensity of his efforts were still felt in Pike County, as evidenced by the indulgence of the county court. Even before the estate was finally settled, Solomon was allowed to purchase those family members still remaining in slavery. By I860 it appeared that all the family was free.
Solomon, who had been his father's business partner, had never married. On countless occasions he had remarked, according to the family tradition, that his children would never be brought up in a country where they were marked for slavery. With the Emancipation Proclamation's promise of freedom, feeling that surely this was the beginning of the end of slavery, Solomon married. His young bride, Frances Coleman from Springfield, Illinois, was twenty years old and Solomon was nearly fifty when they married on September 29, 1863, during the Civil War.2 Only one of Free Frank's descendants, his grandson Squire, served in the Union army.3 And, with the exception of Solomon, who was now head of the family, all of Free Frank's sons had died before 1860-Frank Jr. in 1851 at the age of forty-six, Squire in 1855 at the age of thirty-eight, and Commodore in 1855 at the age of thirty-two.
Throughout the Civil War, Free Frank's New Philadelphia experienced its period of greatest growth. Black migration, not only from the South but also from the west, principally Missouri, contributed, although only briefly to an increase in the town's population.4 With its predominantly black population, New Philadelphia, according to Norman Crockett, would be classed as an all-black town: “a separate community containing a population of at least 90 percent black.” Despite this definition, three of the five all-black towns in Crockett's study were founded by whites: Nicodemus, Kansas, founded in 1879; Langston, Oklahoma, founded in 1891; and Boley, Oklahoma, founded in 1904….5