Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch on “Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania”
Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch is the author of the newly published book Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania (The History Press, February 2018). Dr. Gooch will discuss her book, which traces the stories of residents of Hinsonville, a free black community, who fought for the Union. Named for Emory Hinson, a black man who purchased acres straddling Lower and Upper Oxford townships in Chester County, PA, the former 19th century village of Hinsonville attracted both free and determined to be free people who championed religious freedom, higher education, land ownership and equal rights. Residents organized a black Protestant church, supported the founding of Ashmun Institute (later Lincoln University), vigilantly opposed slavery and, in some cases, emigrated to Liberia as a part of the colonization movement. The community’s tradition of self-determination compelled 18 of its men to enlist to advance the freedom cause, 11 of whom trained at the former Camp William near Philadelphia.
Some of the men are buried at Hosanna church cemetery next to the entrance to Lincoln University’s campus. “These men and their families anticipated that history would over look them and their role in transforming America, so they placed headstones, monuments to their lives next to our country’s oldest degree-granting historically black University,” says Dr. Gooch. “By placing their personal monuments there, they placed themselves into historical memory. In the absence of photographs, and virtually no written history about them, I considered how to resurrect them to finish telling their stories. Their pension files and other primary documents helped reconstruct their lives, evoke their voices and narratives of our shared history as Americans.”
Since its release, Hinsonville’s Heroes has maintained active interest among both general and academic audiences and was recently featured on Pennsylvania Cable Network-TV’s PA Books.
Dr. Cheryl Renée Gooch is an academic leader, published scholar and active historical researcher. She served as historian and primary writer for the Delaware History Museum’s permanent exhibition, “Journey to Freedom” which chronicles the Black Delawarean experience from 1629 to the present. An active member of the Toni Morrison Society Bench by the Road Project, Dr. Gooch led the effort to place the memorial bench at Hosanna Church which honors Hinsonville’s Civil War veterans, the church’s role in founding Lincoln University, and its members participation in Liberian colonization and the abolition of slavery. A Life member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), she serves on the Executive Council, and is a member of the organization’s Carter G. Woodson House Committee which advises the National Park Service on interpretive themes for the historic site.
Dr. Gooch is author of On Africa’s Lands: The Forgotten Stories of Two Lincoln Educated Missionaries in Liberia (published in 2014 by Lincoln University Press) which chronicles the experiences of James Amos and Thomas Amos, former Hinsonville residents. Her newest book, Hinsonville’s Heroes: Black Civil War Soldiers of Chester County, Pennsylvania, interprets the lives of men from this free black community who served in the war to end slavery, and their families’ efforts to ensure that they are remembered for their role in re-unifying this country.
December 2018 Newsletter