Merrill Slate Quarry workers, Brownville, ca. 1868


The stereo view photograph shows workers in the Merrill Slate Quarry in Brownville. Notice that a number of the workers are African-American.

After the Civil War, Gen. Oliver Otis Howard, head of the new Freedmen's Bureau, worked with Adams Merrill, owner of the quarry, to place about 34 families of former slaves in Brownville and Williamsburg to work in the quarry.

Merrill had requested families. The children attended local schools and the men worked in the quarry. A number of former slaves died of pneumonia and other diseases sometime after they arrived about 1868. Gradually others left the area as well, and by 1880, all the families of former slaves had left Brownville.

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