A new book chronicling local Black history has been published by local authors Katie Burwinkel, John Glaze and Myra Phillips and is currently available for purchase.
“Black History of Highland County” is a 130-page book that includes information about the county’s first Black resident; early Black settlements including Hansborough, Black Rock and Gist; the country’s only Black automobile manufacturer who was from Greenfield; and a three-day attack on a Black church camp in present day Danville.
Burwinkel said the book is the outgrowth of a project the Highland County Historical Society undertook to research the history of the former Lincoln School for Black students in Hillsboro.
“It was really fun actually — a lot work — but nothing like it has been done before,” Burwinkel said.
While the Gist Settlement is more well known, Burwinkel said Hansborough was located north of Hillsboro off what today is Wright Road. At one point the settlement had more than 100 residents, a school, a church, several homes and a cemetery that still exists, according to Burwinkel.
She said the land was purchased by a white man who married a Black woman and had to leave Virginia. The man died before arriving at his new home, but his wife brought his children, her children and their children and created a settlement.
The book covers the founding of Highland County through current times and represents nearly two years of research and interviews. Included in the book are old photographs, newspaper articles, stories that have not been published before, personal stories of life in Hillsboro by local residents past and present, Black churches, Black members of the military and more.
“It’s just sort of an expansion of the Lincoln School project,” Burwinkel said. “People came forward with stories we had never heard before and we just thought they should be recorded in a book.”
”Black History of Highland County” is available for purchase at the historical society’s Highland House Museum in Hillsboro and online at hchistoricalsociety.weebly.com.
The Highland House is currently open from 1-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Burwinkel said all proceeds from the book will go toward a scholarship through the African American Awareness Research Council in Highland County.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.