Histories of Freedom

On June 19, 1865, the actions Major General Gordon Granger would change the lives and futures of nearly 190,000 African Americans. Once General Order No. 3 was posted in Galveston, Texas, the promise of freedom for the enslaved people of Texas was finally realized. News of emancipation spread across the state as former slave holders were forced to disseminate the orders of emancipation the African Americans. Some of the earliest celebrations included gatherings of the formerly enslaved, prayer services, and horse races, but as time went on, celebration of Emancipation Day or Juneteenth grew from sparse gatherings to more organized events. Even the name of the holiday would undergo a transformation. What started as Emancipation Day would become more broadly referenced to as Juneteenth around 1890 in the newspapers. Resources like the The Portal to Texas History hosted by the University of North Texas.

When looking back through the newspaper archives, many of the people that were integral to early Juneteenth celebrations are buried at Olivewood Cemetery. Of the approximately 4,400 burials, 850 of those were people born prior to Emancipation. Sadly, there are only 160 headstones remaining to mark their final resting places.

This excerpt from The Galveston Daily News via The Portal to Texas History mentions Richard Allen, Charles Atherton, C. C. Minegan, and Milton Baker as a part of the upcoming 1889 Emancipation Day festivities.

In The Houston Daily Post we find Richard Allen was responsible for procuring the food for Juneteenth 1898. The June 20, 1880 edition of The Galveston Daily News reports that this Emancipation Day was the biggest one thus far. Richard Allen and Charles Ferguson are two people at rest in Olivewood mentioned.

We highly recommend reading this article in The Houston Post from June 28, 1914. It highlights a gathering of the formerly enslaved in Emancipation Park. Not only does it give you a sense of how African American were viewed at the time, the picture features several people at rest in Olivewood. It also contains complicated and conflicting thoughts around emancipation and how it unfolded.

James Kyle (one of the people in the picture above) is listed as the superintendent of Olivewood. Spending your Juneteenth at Olivewood is a great way to honor the people alive on June 19, 1865.

What’s a holiday without a sale? Retailers were eager to promote Juneteenth sales to make sure everyone could look their best during the celebrations. Shoes, dresses, and suits are some of the ads that can be found in The Portal.

Every Juneteenth, we leave red flowers on as a way to reflect upon the their lives before and after Emancipation. Join us Saturday, June 15th from 10 am -3 pm to honor those that were alive on Emancipation Day.