New Philadelphia Town Site
The New Philadelphia Town Site is the location of the first town in the country founded by an African American. In 1836, former slave Frank McWorter and his family moved to the Hadley township. McWorter platted the town and named it "New Philadelphia." The site is also notable in that it was a racially integrated community well before the Civil War. The site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2014. The site is now an open farming field but there are interpretive signs just inside of the road.
Backstory and Context
Frank McWorter was born a slave in South Carolina in 1777. He and his owner moved to Kentucky 1795 and two years later he married another slave. He was able to hire out his time and eventually worked enough that he was able to buy his wife's freedom in 1817 and his own in 1819. They and their four children moved to the Hadley Township in Illinois in 1830. Frank was able to buy the freedom for 16 of his family members. He passed away in 1854. Railroads eventually bypassed the town and by the 1880s it was abandoned.