Freetown Church

Historical Marker #1347 commemorates Freetown Church, which is located near Gamaliel, Kentucky, in Monroe County.

The church was built in the late 1840s by three former slaves who had been freed by their owner, William Howard. Howard had migrated to Monroe County, Kentucky, from North Carolina in 1802. There, he purchased a large amount of farmland. Like many large landowners during this era, Howard owned slaves who worked his fields.

Due to a variety of reasons, some slaveholders grew disillusioned with the institution. Some had become slave owners by inheritance. Growing hateful of the institution's effect on both them and their slaves, they emancipated their bonds people. Some owners made provisions for their emancipated slaves to immigrate to a free state; others requested that the freedmen colonize to Africa; while others, like Howard, allowed them to remain near their former slave homes.

When Howard freed his slaves in the 1840s, he provided each of them with a small parcel of land. The church was eventually built near these properties. The emancipated slaves established Freetown, the first African American settlement in Monroe County. Understanding the importance of religion in building a strong community, Howard's former slaves, including George Pipkin, Albert Howard, and Peter West, built the log church structure, Freetown Church, which stands to this day.

During the antebellum years, slaves and free African Americans in the South often worshipped in segregated areas of white congregations. When allowed, however, they more often chose to experience religious fellowship on their own terms, in their own style, and in their own buildings. These shared spiritual experiences built close knit communities and promoted a sense of solidarity and security. In addition, church buildings in African American hamlets also served as school buildings. The Freetown Church was also a school.

Now known as the Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Images

Freetown Church

Freetown Church

This photograph shows Freetown Church, later known as the Mount Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church. Courtesy of the National Park Service-National Register of Historic Places. View File Details Page

Freetown Church

Freetown Church

Freetown Church, also known as Mount Vernon A.M.E. Church, is pictured here. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Courtesy of Brian Stansberry. View File Details Page

Notching

Notching

The craftsmanship that went into the dovetailed notching of the close-fitting logs is shown in this image. Courtesy of the Nation Park Service-National Register of Historic Places. View File Details Page

Interior of Freetown Church

Interior of Freetown Church

This image shows part of the interior of Freetown Church. Courtesy of the National Park Service-National Register of Historic Places. View File Details Page

The Benefit of the Fifteenth Amendment

The Benefit of the Fifteenth Amendment

As this image, titled "The Benefit of the Fifteenth Amendment" shows, one of the advantages of African American suffrage was stronger churches and schools as portrayed in the bottom two center panels. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Tim Talbott, “Freetown Church,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed May 29, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/185.

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