African Ancestry

McWh*rter   Genealogy

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African Ancestry

Updated 15-Feb-2004

Today a number of Americans of African ancestry bear the McWh*rter surname.

Some acquired the title from ancestors who as slaves or share croppers assumed the surname from slave holders or land owners whose fields they worked. This is not unlike the manner in which some McWh*rter families probably came by the surname in 16th century Scotland. Back then serfs and peasants working the land of others often assumed the surname of the landholder for whom they toiled.

Other McWh*rters of African ancestry acquired their surname in the more traditional way as sons or daughters of a father bearing the surname. Relationships between slave holders and female slaves were not uncommon and today some McWh*rter families of African ancestry have as strong a claim to Scottish origins as those of strictly European ancestry.

Given the difficulties inherent in tracing the genealogy of Americans of African ancestry it should come as no surprise that less is known about these branches of the McWh*rter tree. But surprising scholarly research has been done in some areas, resulting in the preservation of both heart-breaking and heart-warming family histories.

Perhaps the most inspiring of all McWh*rter stories
is that of Frank McWorter (1777-1854).
On this page you will find a description of a book about Frank written by one of his great great granddaughters
and a 3-generation register report
outlining some of his descendants.

new3.gif (144 bytes)   In the summer of 2002 a major archaeological project began at the site of New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL - the town founded by Frank McWorter and his wife Lucy.   new3.gif (144 bytes)

"The goal of this interdisciplinary project is to make the story of New Philadelphia part of the national memory."

The following invitation has been extended by Christopher Fennell - Historical Archaeologist

  "I am writing in search of anyone interested in the descendant families of Free Frank and Lucy McWorter, founders of the town of New Philadelphia, in Hadley Township, Pike County, Illinois, in 1836. I am working with a group of historians and archaeologists from the University of Maryland, the Illinois State Museum, the University of Illinois, and the New Philadelphia Association, to research the social history of this town and its past residents as part of our national heritage. We have recently obtained funding from the National Science Foundation as part of our efforts, and we will be engaged in a multi-year project of historical studies, oral history interviews, and archaeological investigations."

  "If you are interested in this project, and recovering the national memory of this historic town and its founders, please contact us. We seek your input, as a member of the community who may have an interest in this effort, to talk with us about the types of questions you would like to have addressed through such research, and your thoughts and preferences on potential ways to honor the heritage of New Philadelphia."

  "The story of New Philadelphia is both compelling and unique. In 1836, Frank McWorter, an African American who was born into slavery and later purchased his own freedom, acquired 42 acres of land in the sparsely populated area of Pike County, situated in the rolling hills bounded by the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. He incorporated a town, subdivided the property, and sold lots. He encouraged other families of African American and European heritage to move to the town and create a racially integrated community in the decades before and after the Civil War. New Philadelphia likely served as a stopping place for the "Underground Railroad" of enslaved African Americans who were fleeing northward from the oppression of southern plantations. The history of New Philadelphia serves as a rare example of an integrated early farming community on thenation's Midwestern frontier. The town's population reached its peak of about 170 people after the Civil War, a size comparable to many Pike County communities today. However, by the end of the century corporate politics resulted in the death knell for the settlement: regional transportation investors routed a new railroad line to bypass the town. Many of New Philadelphia's residents eventually moved away and, by the early twentieth century, only a few families remained."

  "You can learn more about the history of New Philadelphia, and details concerning upcoming phases of our multi-year research efforts by following the related web page links you will find at:"

   "Thank you very much for your time and consideration, Christopher Fennell"

Or you can connect directly to the project's web pages and McWorter & New Philadelphia links by clicking:


Frank McWorter of Union co., SC (1777-1854)

Perhaps no story of McWh*rter origins anywhere will match that of Frank McWorter whose story has been told by one of his great great granddaughters, Juliet E. K. Walker, Professor of History at the University of Illinois-Urbana. Her book published in 1983 by The University Press of Kentucky is titled:

Free Frank - A Black Pioneer on the Antebellum Frontier

which is available through most of the major bookstore chains in hardcover and paperback.

The following description of the book is from the back cover of the paperback edition.

The story of Free Frank is not only a testament to human courage and resourcefulness but affords new insight into the American frontier. Born a slave in the South Carolina piedmont in 1777, Frank died a free man in 1854 in a town he founded in western Illinois. His accomplishments, creditable for any frontiersman, were for a black man extraordinary.

We first learn details of Frank's life when in 1795 his owner moved to Pulaski County, Kentucky. We know that he married Lucy, a slave on a neighboring farm, in 1700. Later he was allowed to hire out his time, and when his owner moved to Tennessee, Frank was left in charge of the Kentucky farm. During the War of 1812, he set up his own saltpeter works, an enterprise he maintained until he left Kentucky. In 1817 he purchased his wife's freedom for $800; two years later he bought his own liberty for the same price. Now free, he expanded his activities, purchasing land and dealing in livestock.

With his wife and four of his children, Free Frank left Kentucky in 1830 to settle on a new frontier. In Pike County, Illinois, he purchased a farm and later, in 1836, platted and successfully promoted the town of New Philadelphia. The desire for freedom was an obvious spur to his commercial efforts. Through his lifetime of work he purchased the liberty of sixteen members of his family at a cost of nearly $14,000.

Goods and services commanded a premium in the life of the frontier. Free Frank's career shows what an exceptional black man, though working against great odds, could accomplish through industry, acumen, and agressiveness. His story suggests a great deal about business activity and legal practices, as well as racial conditions, on the frontier.

Juliet Walker has performed a task of historical detection in recreating the life of Free Frank from family traditions, limited personal papers, public documents, and secondary sources. In doing so, she has added a significant chapter to the history of Afro-Americans.

You will find Frank McWorter [db#12867], in the McWh*rter Database, listed as a grandson of John McWhorter [db#708] (cir1700-1757) of Albemarle County, Virginia. The story of John McWhorter is told in detail elsewhere on this web site.

Below is a 3-generation register report of the descendants of Frank McWorter and his wife, Lucy, as I have them recorded in the McWh*rter Database. Anyone with further information, or corrections to make, concerning this family is encouraged to contact me.
Alan D. McWhirter at [email protected]

tree6.gif (2816 bytes)     The Modified Register Report which follows relates information currently in the MCWH*RTER DATABASE. Anyone with additional information to offer or who believes that a correction to some of the information is justified should feel free to offer their assistance.

1. Frank McWorter #12867 born 1777, Union co., SC, married 9-Mar-1839, in Pike co., IL, Lucy (Denham or) Free #12868, born 1771, VA, died 23-Aug-1870, Pike co., IL, buried: New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL. Frank died 7-Sep-1854, Pike co., IL, buried: New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL.


.......+ 2. i Juda McWorter #12869 born 13-May-1800.

.......+ 3. ii Frank McWorter #12870 born -Sep-1804.

.......+ 4. iii Sally McWorter #12871 born 1811.

.......+ 5. iv Solomon McWorter #12872 born -Feb-1815.

.......+ 6. v Squire McWorter #12873 born -Sep-1817.

..........7. vi Commodore McWorter #12874 born -Jan-1823, Pulaski co., KY, died 15-Mar-1855, Pike co., IL.

.......+ 8. vii Lucy Ann McWorter #12875 born 22-Sep-1825.


Second Generation

2. Juda McWorter #12869 born 13-May-1800, Fishing Creek, Pulaski co., KY, married 12-Nov-1853, in Pike co., IL, William Armstead #12876, born cir1800. Juda died 12-Mar-1906, buried: Pike co., IL.


..........9. i Calvin McWorter #13047 born 1836.

..........10. ii Commodore McWorter #13048 born 1844.

..........11. iii Robert ? #13049 born 1850.


3. Frank McWorter #12870 born -Sep-1804, Fishing Creek, Pulaski co., KY, married 1846, Mary Ann ? #12877, born 1828. Frank died 21-Jun-1851, Pike co., IL.


..........12. i Mary McWorter #13050 born 1847.

..........13. ii Lucy McWorter #13051 born 1850.


4. Sally McWorter #12871 born 1811, Fishing Creek, Pulaski co., KY, died 22-Mar-1891, Pike co., IL.


..........14. i Lucy Ann McWorter #13052 born bef1838.

..........15. ii Calvin McWorter #13053 born 1838.

..........16. iii Permilia McWorter #13054 born 1839.

..........17. iv Charlotte McWorter #13055 born 1840.


5. Solomon McWorter #12872 born -Feb-1815, Fishing Creek, Pulaski co., KY, married 29-Sep-1863, in New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL, Francis Jane Coleman #12878, born 1843, died 1925. Solomon died 7-Jan-1879, New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL.


..........18. i John McWorter #13017 born 1864, married Edmonia ? #13030, born cir1865. John died bef1937.

..........19. ii Mary McWorter #13018 born 1865, married ? Washington #13025, born cir1860. Mary died bef1937.

..........20. iii Julia McWorter #13019 born 1866, married ? Coleman #13027, born cir1865. Julia died bef1937.

..........21. iv Lucy McWorter #13020 born 1869, married ? North #13026, born cir1865.

..........22. v Francis McWorter #13021 born 1872, married Sadie ? #13031, born cir1875. Francis died aft1937.

..........23. vi Arthur McWorter #13022 born 1875, married 1905, Ophelia Elise Walker #13028, born cir1880, Pike co., IL, died 1914. Arthur died 1950.

..........24. vii Reuben McWorter #13023 born 1879, died aft1937.

..........25. viii Eunice McWorter #13024 born 1877, died 1877.


6. Squire McWorter #12873 born -Sep-1817, Pulaski co., KY, married 7-May-1843, in Pike co., IL, Louisa Clark #12879, born 1826, Lincoln co., KY, died 1883, New Phildelphia, Pike co., IL. Squire died 18-Dec-1855, Pike co., IL.


..........26. i Lucy Jane McWorter #12881 born 1845.

..........27. ii Squire McWorter #12882 born 23-Jan-1846, Chatham, Ontario, Canada, married (1) Martha Ellen Stutly #12885, born cir1850, died -Apr-1884, married (2) 5-Sep-1887, in Barry, IL, Martha Jane (Mrs. Jones) Mathews #12888, born 26-Aug-1856, Rockport, Pike co., IL, died 2-May-1938, Glendale, CA, buried: Grandview Cemetery, Glendale, CA. Squire died 24-Feb-1915, Pompeii, MI, buried: Hadley, IL.

..........28. iii George McWorter #12883 born 1849.

..........29. iv Eliza Ann McWorter #12884 born 1853, New Philadelphia, Pike co., IL.


8. Lucy Ann McWorter #12875 born 22-Sep-1825, Pulaski co., KY, married 1-Apr-1858, in Pike co., IL, Ansel (Vaughan or) Vond #12880, born cir1820. Lucy died 16-Apr-1902, Pike co., IL.


..........30. i Mary Vond #13046 born 1859.

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