Monday, February 19, 2007

Former slave founded town that vanished
With New Philadelphia, McWorter was the first African-American to establish a plat map for a U.S. town and legally register it with government authorities. He called himself Free Frank, declaring his status as a man who had bought his own freedom.

Today, no visible signs of New Philadelphia remain. The blacksmith’s shop is gone, as are the post office and the town’s dwellings. The only trace is a gravel road following the path of what were New Philadelphia’s streets.

Yet fragments of New Philadelphia remain under the grass. Archaeologists from across the country are digging into the earth, trying to reconstruct the story of this black pioneer and his uncommon town.