After the Civil War, Black families came West, establishing self-sufficient all-Black towns, filling every job from barber to teacher, doctor to state legislator. One such all-Black town was Dearfield, Colorado. Founded in 1910 by O.T. Jackson, it was named for the sentiment that the first settlers felt towards the land and the colony.
Dearfield introduced dryland farming to Colorado and became a vibrant and thriving community with an aggregate land value of $750,000 at its peak. It had a school, two churches, a doctor's office, a filling station and a lunchroom.
Dearfield has significance because it represents the national Black American colonization movement established for promoting self-sufficiency and land ownership. It also records the contributions in the settlement of the West and records the efforts of a leader and entrepreneur in Colorado Black history at the beginning of the last century.
The Great Depression and a drought that lasted throughout the 1930s took a devastating toll on Dearfield. By 1940, the population had diminished to twelve. O.T. Jackson later died in 1948.
Today the Black American West Museum proudly owns the majority of the towns lots and is seeking to preserve, protect and tell the story of this historical town.
4th Annual Dearfield Day
Don't miss the 4th Annual Dearfield Day on Sunday, September 25, 2011 from Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Join us for a Day of Fun & Celebration!
Come with friends and family to spend an afternoon at the historic Dearfield Townsite, an African American farming community on the Great Plains. Participants should bring everything they need to enjoy the day – a picnic lunch, lawn chairs, games, and shade. No formal program is planned – just a fun day of gathering at one of Colorado’s historical gems. Sponsored by the Dearfield Preservation Committee of the Black American West Museum.
Oliver T. Jackson dreamed big—not just for himself but for any African American who longed to do as Booker T. Washington advised: “Get some property….get some of the substance for yourself.” Washington’s advice, along with the early 1900s’ “back to the land” movement, inspired Jackson to use his own money to purchase acreage for a black colony some twenty-five miles southeast of Greeley, naming the new community “Dearfield” to reflect the fact that its homes and fields would be dear to the residents. Seven homesteaders made claims on the land in 1910; ten years later the town boasted seven hundred people, platted streets, a church and a schoolhouse, Jackson’s filling station and lunchroom, a dance pavilion, and a strong sense of community. A few buildings remain today as a reminder of this dream.
30 miles east of Greeley on U.S. Highway 34, between Greeley & Fort Morgan