Around 1879, approximately 14 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, about 25 to 30 families migrated with other ex-slaves from the slave states to a better opportunity in the foothills of the Ozarks. With the Homestead Act of 1862, and with railroad grants, ex-slaves were able to own their own land, thereby achieving a piece of the American dream. Thus, these pioneering families, and others, crossed many mountains and the mighty Mississippi, their eyes on the prize of settling in a place free from persecution and retribution.
The Owens Family
The Owens family migrated from Tennessee to the Ozark Foothills, and established their homesteads in the areas that would become Solomon Grove and Zion Grove. Thankfully, they were not content to simply live in the area--they donated a large plot of land for a school campus. Two sites contained classroom buildings, a home for a teacher, a basketball court, and two bathrooms; these facilities were used for decades.
The school that once stood in the site is no longer in use--the school was consolidated into a larger district. However, the City of Twin Groves now uses this land for a city complex including a public library, a community center, and City Hall--as well as the Ozark Foothills African-American History Museum. The generosity and foresight of the Owens family has improved the lives of the people in the area for generations--and continues to do so!
Landowner who originally migrated from Tennessee.
Wife and co-migrant with Will Owens.
Silas Owens, Sr.
Nephew of Will and Alice. Silas was a stonemason who built "The Shop," the former schoolhouse which currently houses the Twin Groves Public Library, and used to house the Ozark Foothills African-American History Museum. For more information, see A Storm Couldn't Tear Them Down, by Holly Hope.
Matilda was Silas Owens, Sr.'s mother.
Hester Evans Agnew Giles
Born 1879, she migrated from South Carolina, and took possession of homestead land in Conway County, AR.
Fought in the Civil War, and afterwards migrated to Solomon Grove from Memphis, TN. He donated land to build a church in Solomon Grove.
Received a land grant of 120 acres in 1890.