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African American New Zion community celebrates 150 years
Street Fair, Live Blues and Gospel Music, Pig Roast, Old-Fashioned Basket Meeting part of celebration
By: Georgetown/Scott County Tourism
"All are welcome to this celebration as the residents of New Zion, including descendants of the original founders, mark this historic milestone," said Willa "Billie" Gentry, New Zion historian and festival coordinator.
According to a deed at the Scott County Courthouse, formerly enslaved men Primus Keene and Calvin Hamilton purchased 23 acres of land on Nov. 23, 1872, but the settlement of this land took place even earlier. According to oral history, it is believed the village had already been established in 1868. By 1870, the Scott County census recorded 165 residents in Briar Hill with approximately 50 others living on or owning farms nearby.
Both Keene and Hamilton sold lots to other formerly enslaved persons, forming the African American village of Briar Hill. Homes were built on the lots sold by Hamilton; a church, school, lodge and well were built on the lots Keene sold.
The village was eventually renamed New Zion and, 125 years after its founding, a marker presented by the Scott County Fiscal Court was erected by the Kentucky Historical Society in 1993. Descendants of the founders and earliest settlers still live in the village. Thirteen historical homes remain, all but four occupied, as well as the church and village cemetery. Four Buffalo Soldiers, members of the 9th and 10th Cavalries and the 23rd and 24th Infantries – the first all-African American military units formed during peace time – are buried in this cemetery.
New Zion 150th Birthday Celebration, Scott County, KY
Festival website: www.georgetownky.com/
Friday: 6 p.m. – live blues with Tee Dee Young's Blues band.
Saturday: 1 p.m. – Street Fair, featuring arts and crafts and home-cooked food vendors, including fried fish and chicken, frog legs, a pig roast, homemade pickles, salsa and chow chow and more; 6 p.m. – Gregg Figgs' Blues Band.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – Old-Fashioned Basket Meeting, with Morning Service followed by home-cooked dinner and Evening Service led by Pastor Christopher Lee of Cincinnati, OH, followed by country fried fish. Back to Basic Gospel Singing, featuring the Williams Sisters, Joyful Souls, the Edwards Sisters and more.
Place 122 New Zion Road, New Zion, KY 40447
Misc. Bring lawn chairs and coolers.
For more information about the New Zion 150th Birthday Celebration, call Billie Gentry at 859-619-3738.
Willa "Billie" Gentry, Festival Coordinator
Lori Saunders (mailto:Lori@
Georgetown/Scott County Tourism (http://www.georgetownky.com/)
Photo: Kentucky Tourism
HI- and LOW-RES photos available.
ABOUT NEW ZION, KY| New Zion is a historic neighborhood located in Scott County, KY. Originally known as the village of Briar Hill, it was established as early as 1868, according to oral history. More than 165 former enslaved persons lived in this African American community by 1870. On Nov. 23, 1872, formerly enslaved men Primus Keene and Calvin Hamilton purchased 23 acres of land for $2,172.68. The land was divided into lots and sold to other formerly enslaved persons or donated for the construction of church, school, lodge and well. At some point, the village's name was changed to New Zion. Today, descendants of the founders and some of the community's earliest settlers still live in the village.
ABOUT GEORGETOWN, KY (http://georgetownky.com/)
Lori Saunders, Executive Director