What I call the First Compromise of Happy Hill took place at this time, when Schuman offered to settle on the farm across the creek from Salem. This way, he would not have his enslaved persons in town and would still be close enough to handle the town's medical needs.
Meanwhile, in the halls of the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Colonization Society (ACS) was formed towards the end of 1816. The purpose was for the re-settling of freed Africans in this country to Liberia, West Africa. This was not a new idea, as Freetown, Sierra Leone had been founded in the last 1700s by those previously enslaved by the British.
The first ACS ship left for Africa in 1822, and the effort continued until well into the Jim Crow era. The ASC was disbanded in 1913, the same year that the towns of Salem and Winston in North Carolina merged.
Meanwhile, Dr. Schuman brought more acreage under cultivation on the farm and his enslaved "family" grew, totaling 17 by 1836. That was the year the doctor's attempt to purchase the farm came to an abrupt halt as he was encouraged by Moravian officials to vacate the farm and get rid of his enslaved family. Today, the Schuman site on Happy Hill is an official State of North Carolina archeological site.
Dr. Schuman made arrangement through the ACS to emancipate all his enslaved persons and send them to Liberia, West Africa. He paid for their passage from Salem to Wilmington, from Wilmington to Liberia, and also gave them enough funds to sustain themselves for six months in their home. An ACS documenter estimated that including the market value of the human chattels, this entire operation cost Dr. Schuman about $13,000 in 1836 dollars, which would be over $230,000 today. The group from Happy Hill settled in Millsburg on the St. Paul's River.
In 1872, after much resistance from residents to sell Salem town lots to Freedmen, what I call the Second Compromise of Happy Hill took place. Moravians ultimately agreed to sell lots there to establish the first Freedman's community in the city. Those on one side of the creek wanted to name the community Liberia for the events of 1836, but the Freedman evidently had other ideas. Early maps show the settlement as Liberia or Happy Hill. Today, it carries the name Happy Hill with the main street being Liberia Street.
[Editor's Note: This community formerly known as Happy Hill Gardens has been revitalized and today is made up of several housing developments including Willow's Peake, Alder's Pointe, etc.]
Reversing the Middle Passage: From Happy Hill to Liberia in the 1800s
By Mel White (c) 2006
In 1816, two events occurred that directly impacted the upper Yadkin Valley region of North Carolina. First, the Moravian's recruitment of Dr. Frederick Schuman from Bethania to establish his practice in Salem. The doctor's wife and probably one of his two sons were suffering from long-term illnesses. Celia and her daughter, Phyllis, had been purchased by Dr. Schuman in 1809 to assist his family when he first arrived from New Jersey. By 1816, Celia had four children and the Moravians wanted no more enslaved persons in the town limits of Salem.