The Bostick Settlement

USS General Bragg (1862-1865)
USS General Bragg (1862-1865), from the Naval History and Heritage Command

When John Bostick died, his slaves became the property of his daughter and her husband, who took them to establish their plantation in Arkansas in 1859. Four days after the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, four of their slaves, brothers Hardin, Dudley, and Stephen, and their cousin William were enlisted in the Union Navy as contraband and began military service aboard the USS General Bragg.

Stephen Bostick, Jackson County farmer, circa 1907
Stephen Bostick, Jackson County farmer, circa 1907

Following the Civil War, Hardin and Dudley Bostick and fellow veteran Isaac Morgan settled five miles south of Murphysboro. In 1866, Stephen Bostick joined them at what came to be known as the Bostick Settlement on the boundary of Murphysboro and Pomona Townships. The 1907 Jackson County atlas shows that the settlement had farms, a school, a church, and a cemetery. Land for the cemetery, the only remaining feature, was provided by Hardin Bostick. A successful farmer, Stephen Bostick paid to have his portrait included in the 1907 Jackson County atlas, but his photograph is isolated because of his race.

Another member of the Bostick Settlement was fellow veteran Adolphus Isom, who had been a slave of John Isham in Tennessee. Isom served in the 4th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery and was wounded in a skirmish near Clinton, Kentucky. He married Lucy Stovall in 1876 and moved to the Bostick Settlement around 1887. The 1900 census shows that he lived near Dudley Bostick and rented a farm. His wife died just a year before he was killed in the Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Buried in Bostick Cemetery, Isom was memorialized with a headstone in 1994.

As veterans, the Bosticks helped establish Murphysboro Grand Army of the Republic Post No. 728 (Colored) in 1890. Although Dudley had been refused membership in Murphysboro’s Worthen Post No. 128 in 1887 because of his race, Worthen Post voted unanimously to accept the former members of GAR Post No. 728 when it dissolved due to declining membership in 1899.

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to P. Michael Jones, director of the General John A. Logan Museum, for providing images and information about the Bostick family and their friends.