Side A: James and Sophia Clemens’ lives are part of a story of tens of thousands of people of color who migrated north in search of land to farm and better lives during the first half of the 19th century. In 1818, James Clemens (1781-1870) purchased 387 acres in German Township, Darke County, Ohio. He and Sophia (Sellers) Clemens (1786-1875) were brought here by Adam Sellers (1742-1821) of Rockingham County, Virginia. In 1822, Thornton Alexander (1783-1851), emancipated by A. Sellers, purchased land in Randolph County, Indiana, about a half mile west of Clemens’ land. These purchases were the beginning of the Greenville Settlement on the Ohio-Indiana border. Other settlers of color followed, including the Bass family from North Carolina, in 1828. The 1830 census enumerated approximately 78 people of color in German Township Ohio and adjacent Green’s Fork Township, Indiana. (Continued on other side)
Side B: (Continued from other side) The Clemenses owned 790 acres of land in 1838, with their holdings to increase even more throughout the mid-19th century. A sign of the family’s prosperity was their substantial two-story, brick I-house, built sometime between 1822 and 1850. Besides farming, the Clemenses were leaders in their multiracial community. In 1845, they helped found the Union Literary Institute, an early, integrated school that offered higher education to people of color. The family also helped to establish the local Wesleyan Methodist Church (later named Bethel Long Wesleyan Church) and sold to it land for a cemetery. In the years before the Civil War, the Clemenses and other families, such as the Alexanders and the Goens, were conductors in the Underground Railroad. Around 1885, the Ohio side of the community took the name of Long, in order to gain a post office.