Please Support New Philadelphia For Inclusion In The National Park Service

The story of Frank McWorter and New Philadelphia is one of daring and hard work, luck, and shrewd family leadership.

Born a slave in South Carolina in 1777, Frank McWorter moved to Kentucky with his owner in 1795. He married Lucy, a slave from a nearby farm, in 1799. Later allowed to hire out his own time, McWorter engaged in a number of enterprises, notably a saltpeter works, that enabled him to buy his wife’s freedom in 1817 and his own in 1819.

Frank and Lucy McWorter and four of their children left Kentucky for Illinois in 1830, the year the Thomas Lincoln family, with son Abraham, came to Illinois from Indiana. McWorter bought a farm in Pike County’s Hadley Township and platted the town of New Philadelphia in 1836. Excellent information on maps, surveys, and land records of New Philadelphia is available at Historical Landscapes of New Philadelphia. McWorter promoted New Philadelphia strenuously, and engaged in other enterprises, managing to buy the freedom of at least sixteen family members. The town itself became a racially integrated community long before the Civil War, the 1850 and subsequent U.S. Census data showing black and white families living there. (See New Philadelphia Census Data) Frank McWorter died at New Philadelphia in 1854. A son, Solomon, assumed family leadership. Bypassed by the railroad in 1869, the townspeople slowly dispersed from the scene from the late 1880s. Today, the town site is an open field. New Philadelphia Map with Deed Information shows the town lots and streets of Philadelphia.

The New Philadelphia Association

The New Philadelphia Association, a not-for-profit organization formed by area residents, seeks to appropriately preserve a substantial portion of the town site in honor of a remarkable man and family of the antebellum Western Illinois frontier. For information about becoming a member visit the Join Us! page, write Carol McCartney, Secretary, NPA, Route 1, Pittsfield, IL 62363.


 

Please Support New Philadelphia For Inclusion In The National Park Service

The National Park Service will soon conduct a special resources study to determine New Philadelphia’s qualifications for inclusion in the National Park Service – our nation’s cultural and natural crown jewels.

You can actively support New Philadelphia for inclusion in the National Park Service by submitting your comments on inclusion by clicking here.

Here are a few key points that you may want to use in your remarks:

The story of New Philadelphia is extraordinary: through a variety of enterprises, town founder Frank McWorter purchased freedom for himself and at least fifteen family members. In addition, McWorter purchased property in Illinois, a free-state, where he moved from Kentucky with his wife, three free-born children and a son freed from bondage.

Some important facts about New Philadelphia:
  • McWorter made history in 1836 as the first African American in our nation to plat and legally register a town.  New Philadelphia became a community where formerly enslaved and free-born African Americans lived alongside European Americans in one of the most racially strident eras of our country’s history.
  • There is currently no other comparable site represented in the 410 units of the National Park system. Only 24 of the 410 units, less than 6%, of the National Park Service are directly associated with African-American history.
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 based on archaeological significance for potential to provide nationally significant information about the lifeways and relationships of African Americans and European Americans in a pioneer setting
  • Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2009 for exceptional national significance for its potential to yield information of major scientific importance and to affect archaeological theories, concepts and ideas
  • Included in the National Park Service National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program in 2013 for active  involvement to end slavery by concealing, harboring,  guiding and sometimes accompanying African Americans attempting to escape bondage
  • New Philadelphia is an inspiration for themes common to all Americans:  the struggle for freedom, opportunity and love of family
  • Archaeological integrity has the potential to yield information of major scientific importance to affect archaeological theories, concepts and ideas
  • Archaeological evidence holds the potential to provide nationally significant information about the lifeways and relationships of African Americans and European Americans in a pioneer setting
  • The worldwide prestige and power of association with the National Park Service far exceeds the resources available through current local management to attract visitors to New Philadelphia.
  • Local businesses and goods and service providers would benefit from funds generated by tourism
  • Direct National Park Service management would permanently protect New Philadelphia from development and inappropriate use of the land to preserve the site’s archaeological integrity for future study of a 19th century racially diverse community

Please submit your comments directly to the National Park Service by clicking here from April 11 to June 11, 2016.  Your comments can profoundly affect New Philadelphia’s inclusion in the National Park System.

Submit your comments

Thank you for supporting New Philadelphia!

The New Philadelphia Association