Jonesborough and Washington County have a strong, African American history. Prior to the Civil War, both enslaved and free people of color called Washington County home. In the 1860 census, there were 952 enslaved people in Washington County. At the same time, there were more free people of color in Washington County than there were in the entire state of Arkansas. Members of the enslaved population fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War alongside their enslavers, and they worked in Jonesborough’s hotels, like the Chester Inn, and on the farms of the larger landowners in Washington County.

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