In recognition of Juneteenth - June 19, 2020
On this Juneteenth holiday, celebrated on June 19 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States, we recognize that 155 years later their ancestors and other people of color are still faced with unequal opportunity and racial discrimination. The Worthington community is committed to condemning racism, working to promote racial equity, and participating in the community dialogue to bring equal treatment and opportunity to all people.
As we stand together with our community in the ongoing fight for racial equity, we are proud to share some stories from Worthington’s history about some of our earliest residents and the community’s fight for the rights of free and enslaved Black people.
In addition to being a stop on the Underground Railroad, did you know that there was an Anti-Slavery Society founded in Worthington? The Worthington Anti-Slavery Society was organized in 1835 with the objective of achieving emancipation of enslaved people. Its constitution reads, “the emancipation of the colored man from the oppression of public sentiment and unjust laws and the elevation of both (enslaved and free Blacks) to an intellectual and moral equality with whites.” The constitution was signed in 1835 by 66 people in Worthington, including 24 females and two men who were elected as trustees of the first Village Council, reflecting their community leadership.
Worthington was home to many people freed from slavery, including James and Harriet Scott who lived with their family in Worthington’s first subdivision, the Morris Addition. The Morris Addition was platted in 1856 as a neighborhood for free Blacks and retired Methodist ministers to own their own homes and is encompassed by Morning Street on the west and by what are now Dublin Granville Road on the north, South Street on the south and Andover on the east. (see map below) The Worthington Historical Society holds Harriet Scott’s manumission papers (see photo right), which state she was freed in December 1858. An 1860 Virginia census document indicated all four Scott family members were emancipated. Son William "Bev" Scott built a home that still stands at the corner of Plymouth and Dublin Granville Road and worked as a barber in both Columbus and Worthington.
The Scotts are just one of many free and emancipated Black individuals and families who called Worthington home. Henry Turk and his wife Dolly, who had been enslaved, were the first African-American couple to own their own home in Worthington, purchasing a home on West New England Avenue in 1856. The Turk children, who were adults when their parents purchased this home, also lived in Worthington. Preston Turk is listed in an 1878 directory as a barber in the rear of the “Union Hotel”, which became the Worthington Inn.
The information and images shared here are courtesy of the Worthington Historical Society, which continues to research and share the stories reflecting our community’s African American history. The Historical Society is working to plan future programming and events to help share this important, rich history with our community.