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Byron Childress, living historian, representing the African American sailors of the war.Detail from the flag of the 127th U.S. Colored Troops Regiment.Living Historian Darlene Colon' of Lancaster added a personal component to the day's activities.

RisingFree

African American History
in South Central
Pennsylvania:
the 19th Century

U.S. Colored Troops Institute
Regional Conference
Harrisburg, PA September 21, 2002

 

On September 20 and 21, 2002, United States Colored Troops Institute held its Regional Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the National Civil War Museum.  Although the focus of this national symposium is on the role of the United States Colored Troops in the Civil War, the Harrisburg conference paid tribute to Thomas Morris Chester, described in its pamphlet as "Harrisburg's most distinguished African American of the Civil War period."
Websites:
 US Colored Troops Institute | National Civil War Museum

A

fter the ceremony unveiling the new tombstone for T. Morris Chester at Lincoln Cemetery, the conference continued at the National Civil War Museum with a welcome from Harry Bradshaw Matthews, President and Senior Fellow of the United States Colored Troops Institute for Local History and Family Research at Hartwick College, Oneonta, New York.  An oil portrait of T. Morris Chester, a gift to the National Civil War Museum, was unveiled, and two concurrent sessions featuring presentations by eight historians followed in the afternoon.  The photographs below are from the late morning portion of the conference.  Some are click-able to view larger images.

Edmund Dudley, President of the Harrisburg chapter of the United States Colored Troops Institute welcomes guests.

«  Left:  Edmund Dudley, President of the Harrisburg chapter of the United States Colored Troops Institute welcomes guests to the first conference in the National Symposium, held in Harrisburg.  Harry Bradshaw Matthews stands to Mr. Dudley's right.

Sponsors of the Harrisburg Symposium were the United States Colored Troops Institute, Ronald H. Brown Charter School and The National Civil War Museum.  Supporters included The City of Harrisburg, The Greater Harrisburg Foundation, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Downtown Improvement District, Johnson, Duffie, Stewart & Weidner, Auchincloss & Auchincloss Marketing & Communications, South Philly Hoagies, Eloise & Edmund Dudley, Cannon Cleaning Company, and J & D Emporium. 

Conferences are scheduled through 2004 in Rochester, NY, Columbia, MD, Detroit, MI and Charleston, SC.

Harry Bradshaw Matthews and George E. Hicks, CEO of the National Civil War Museum unveiled the portrait of T. Morris Chester, which was presented to the museum. Click for a larger image.»At right, descendants of T. Morris Chester witness the unveiling of a portrait depicting their ancestor as commissioned Brigadier General in the Louisiana State Militia in 1873.  Harry Bradshaw Matthews and George E. Hicks, CEO of the National Civil War Museum unveiled the portrait, which was presented to the museum.  George Hicks graciously thanked those assembled for the gift, saying it would be a part of the museum's permanent collection.

Click for a larger image.

Descendants of T. Morris Chester gathered to thank the museum and the USCT Institute for the focus on their ancestor. Click for a larger image.«  Left:  Shortly before the portrait of Thomas Morris Chester was unveiled, the descendants of Chester gathered to thank the museum and the USCT Institute for the focus on their ancestor.  At center are spokespersons for the group, James and Gladys Richardson.

Noting that many of the descendants of Chester present at the conference were born in Liberia, the Richardsons said "We come from two continents, yet we come as one family."

Click for a larger image.

James Richardson presents a plaque of appreciation to Harrisburg historian Calobe Jackson, Jr. Click for a larger image.»At right, James Richardson presents a plaque of appreciation to Harrisburg historian Calobe Jackson, Jr., in appreciation for all of the work that Jackson has done to bring the accomplishments of not only T. Morris Chester, but many local African Americans to light.

Jackson thanked Richardson and the Chester descendants, saying it was "one of the proudest moments of my life."

Click for a larger image.

Frederick Douglass IV presents prints of his great-great- grandfather. Click for a larger image.«  Left:  A reenactor billed as Frederick Douglass IV  presents prints of historical abolitionist Frederick Douglass to Edmund Dudley, Ms. Darlene Colon' of Lancaster (Board of Directors of USCTI), Harry Bradshaw Matthews and George Hicks.  Douglass spoke at the previous evening session about the historical abolitionist, and travels the country teaching about Frederick Douglass by recreating his speeches and performing specific scenes from Douglass' life.

Portrait of Thomas Morris Chester.  Click for a larger image.

» Portrait of Thomas Morris Chester.

Click for a larger image.

All photos on this page and on the next page are by George F. Nagle and are property of Afrolumens.  Please contact the site editor for permission to republish photos.

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This page was updated 31 August 2007.