African American History
Free African Americans had been present in Prince William County from its beginnings. The African-American Cole family seems to have been in the county since 1767. By the time of the first surviving U.S. Census for the area, dating to 1810, there was a sizable “mulatto” community in the Dumfries District. After the Civil War, many of those African Americans lived near the eastern boundary of the Park in a community called Batestown. .
Over time, a mixed African-American and white community developed consisting of two towns - Hickory Ridge and Batestown. Together, this community became known collectively as the Cabin Branch Community due to the employment of many residents in the operation of the Cabin Branch Pyrite Mine from 1889-1920.
Digital document on the African American Experience at Prince William Forest Park, written by Arvilla Payne-Jackson, Ph.D. and Sue Ann Taylor, Ph.D.
Continue on to Cabin Camp segregation
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Did You Know?
Prince William Forest Park was used by the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner to the CIA) as a training camp for spies during World War II. Today, you can rent a cabin where spies once learned their trade.