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BLACK TOWNS IOWA


Buxton

The largest coal mining community in Iowa, Buxton was settled by African Americans in 1880 and flourished until 1923. At its peak, the population was estimated to be 6,000 residents with 5,500 of them claiming African ancestry. In addition to miners, the community also included black lawyers, teachers, doctors, school board members, a post master and a justice of the peace.

When Caucasian workers at the nearby coal mining camp of Mucakinock struck for higher wages, the Consolidation Coal Company recruited African Americans from Virginia as strike-breakers. This original group of 70 individuals grew to more than 4000 by 1881 and soon after, the mining operations of Mucakinock were abandoned and relocated to the coal rich region of Buxton.

The minorities of Buxton were predominantly Swedish with a "smattering" of other nationalities including Scottish. When the settlement was abandoned in 1923 and literally became a ghost town, most of the inhabitants moved on to mining operations in Illinois.

In 1981 Odessa Booker, an 80 year old resident whose father was killed in a mining accident, remembered a black baseball team, the "Buxton Wonders" parading down the street and that as a young woman she danced at the Sharp Inn Nightclub.

 

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