Colorado entrepreneur and messenger for three governors, Mr. O. T. (Oliver Toussaint) Jackson filed a desert claim to create the African-American agricultural colony of Dearfield in May 1910. Dr. Joseph H. P. Westbrook, a Denver physician, proclaimed at an organizational meeting in 1909 that the fields “will be very dear to us,” thus giving Dearfield its name.
The first settlers came in 1911, and by 1920, the successful community of Dearfield had a population of between 200 to 300 residents, two churches, a school and restaurant, plus plans to build a canning factory and a college. Dearfield’s dreams turned to dust in the 1930s Dust Bowl, and the town never recovered. By 1946, Dearfield had a population of 1. Today Dearfield remains a symbol of Western pride and empowerment for many African Americans.
(Dr. George Junne)
Head of Archives and Special Collections at UNC