While the first Blacks arrived in the Puce River area during the 1830s, the community owed its existence largely to the Refugee Home Society. This abolitionist organization led by Henry and Mary Bibb offered support to escaped slaves who travelled to this area from the United States through the Underground Railroad by providing opportunities for land ownership and self-sufficiency. Beginning in 1852, families purchased 10 ha farms in Sandwich and Maidstone Townships, from the Society, which also set aside a portion of lands for the construction of schools and churches.
In 1872, the Refugee Home Society deeded .2 ha of property to the trustees of the British Methodist Episcopal Church. A B.M.E. church and cemetery were established on this site and served the Puce River Black community until the late 1920s. An African Methodist Episcopal church, was also located to the east. Forged in freedom, this thriving farm community produced descendants who have gone on to lead successful lives across North America.
Contact: Glen Cook – Lakeshore Black Heritage Committee