Black Landowners in the mid-1800s

In 1793 Allen Bowie, a prominent area planter and one of the founders of Montgomery County, sold to four of his “infirm former slaves” small plots of land to establish their own households. In so doing, the formerly enslaved Richard Bott, Josiah Beans, Henry Biggarly and David Biggarly became among the first African Americans in the county to own property.

By 1810 more than 650 free blacks lived in Montgomery County; in contrast over 7,500 blacks were enslaved. The Sandy Spring area had by far the most free black residents in the county.


They were tenant farmers, laborers, domestic workers, blacksmiths, carpenters and more.  They made lasting contributions to the progress of their home communities, to the county and the state.

This map from 1865 pinpoints the home locations of just some of the area’s free black landowners in the 19th century.  They were the founders of the black communities that grew in the years after Emancipation.


Click on the icons below to learn more about free blacks in the mid-1800s.  This information was compiled from the files of the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Historical Trust.

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The Martenet and Bond Map of 1865

Martenet and Bond’s map of Montgomery County was first published in 1865, originally produced on a sheet 35 by 30 inches and drawn to a scale of a mile to the inch, with a series of printings thereafter. Towns, villages, community buildings and individual residents are indicated by name and location.  Many of the measurements are suspect; only a portion of actual roads and residents are noted on the map.  The map is of particular interest to the black history of the Sandy Spring area because African Americans who were free and landholders before the Civil War are indicated on the map by race, with the suffix “colored” or “col” or “cold.”  The record gives us the names and home locations of early black residents unavailable from any other resource and gives us a small glimpse into the black communities of the Sandy Spring area as they developed in the 1860s.