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Millcreek to honor Black pioneers in Pioneer Day ceremony

Jul 17, 2020, 5:43 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2020, 1:35 am

Picture of Samuel and Amanda Cambers. Photo credit: Church of Jesus Christ

MILLCREEK– The city of Millcreek is kicking off Pioneer Day by honoring two Black pioneers.

In a statement, the city announced 3205 South Street will be named “Chambers Avenue,” to acknowledge the early Millcreek pioneers Samuel and Amanda Chambers. The induction of Chambers Avenue is part of a new City Center project between Highland Drive and Richmond Avenue. 

The Chambers’ family had a large impact on the city of Millcreek. While many Black pioneers called the city home, many eventually moved elsewhere. However, “Samuel and Amanda grew a prosperous farm in Millcreek that covered 30 acres,” said Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini. 

“For over half a century they were stalwart settlers in this area and well respected in the community,” Silvestrini said. “These pioneers are well deserving of a place of honor in the heart of our new City Center.”

Additionally, the Legacy of the Black Pioneer monument also referred to as “The Hill,” is in the city of Millcreek. 

The street induction will occur on Monday, July 20 at 1o a.m. at 3205 South 1300 East. Jeanetta Williams, with Utah’s  NAACP chapter, Robert Burch, Utah’s chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, along with descendants of the Chambers family will speak at the ceremony. 

In a statement

Photo credit: Ray Boren/Deseret News

The legacy of the Chambers’ family 

Samuel and Amanda Chambers were both born into enslavement.  Samuel was enslaved by the Maxfield Chambers family in Alabama. Amanda was born enslaved by David Lagronne in Mississippi.

In 1844, at the age of 13, Chambers converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint faith during the period of his enslavement. However, Samuel was prohibited from holding the Church’s priesthood due to his race.  

Samuel Chambers married Amanda Lagronne in 1858. Both hold the last names of those who enslaved them. The names of their biological parents are unknown. 

Without support from fellow Latter-day Saint members, Samuel and his wife Amanda ventured West. The Chambers’ were members of  Salt Lake’s 8th ward, where they were assigned custodial duties.

The area known as Millcreek was secured by Sylvester James, Samuel Chambers, and Sylvester Perkins. The Chambers’ family is known as one of the first farming families in Utah after purchasing land in Millcreek in 1875.

They were essential farmers that produced food for the community. The Chambers’ farm grew “many necessities for the family’s survival” said Mayor Silvestrini, including “chickens, eggs, peas, wheat, corn, cabbage, pork, butter, and molasses.” 

A brief history of Utah’s Black pioneers in Millcreek 

In July of 1847, three enslaved Black men, Green Flake, Oscar Crosby, and Hark Lay, were accompanied by their enslavers in their travels to what is now known as the Salt Lake Valley with Latter-day Saint, Orson Pratt. 

Black pioneers played an integral role in the development of Utah. Freed enslaved Black pioneers acquired land in the Cottonwood and Fort Union areas. They nurtured valued acres of agriculture, built homes, and raised families–creating sustainable Black livelihood in Millcreek. 

Utah was a slave state until 1862 when Congress prohibited slavery in the United States by the Emancipation Proclamation.  

As of 2020, 62,0732 people reside in Millcreek. Around 1.94% of the population identifies as Black or African-American. Approxemently 88.13% of Millcreek’s residents identify as white.  

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Millcreek to honor Black pioneers in Pioneer Day ceremony