African American Migrant Workers sort Beans in Southold, c. 1930's
It is unclear how many African American men and women came to Southold over the last 300 years. Thousands, and perhaps tens of thousands came. They arrived from all over, from New York City, from New England, but especially from the South. These families had a profound effect on our community.
Today many of the families that live here can trace their roots to the migrant system that operated in the northern and eastern United States. Workers would travel up and down the coast working at various farms harvesting fruits, vegetables, and other agricultural products. Many of these workers would live in "camps" that were established all over, including several located in Suffolk County. Some returned back to the South, but many chose to settle here and work for a better life. They established businesses, built churches, and became important members of our community. This included prominent local officials such as long time Southold Town Historian and respected author Wayland Jefferson (1883-1961).
Some of the African American family names that are recorded include: Jackson, Howard, Moseley, Green, Morris, Bronskill, Bailey, Hobson, Hatcher, Freeman, Hannibal, Williams, Brazier, Lynch, Booker, Shepard, Peterson, Hudson, Bundy, Turner, Howard, Carter, Taylor, Lewis, and many, many, others.
Unfortunately little material regarding the African American families of Southold has been assembled. There is little material available anywhere on their history, either photographic or documentary, in public collections.
If you are related to one of these families or know of someone who is, please encourage them to consider donating material to the Southold Historical Society's archive so that future generations may know of their contributions to our very diverse community.
Materials sought include farm and business records, family genealogies, photographs, letters, diaries, ledgers, etc.
You may contact the Society by phone at (631) 765-5500 or email us at email@example.com.