“Little Liberia” Bridgeport, Connecticut

1850 Map of Little Liberia – courtesy of Connecticut Historical Society

One of October’s four children was a boy named George Thomas Barclay, born in Philadelphia in 1832. He studied accountancy and barbering (going on later to own a string of barbershops), and in 1859 he married Frances Morris Thorn. A year after his marriage he relocates to Bridgeport Connecticut, where the Barclay family becomes a part of the “Little Liberia” community, one of the earliest free African and Native communities in America.  The Little Liberia community was part of a network of neighborhoods of color within urban centers in the 19th century Northeast where free African heritage and native peoples gathered to make progress socially and economically.

George Barclay migration from Philadelphia to Bridgeport, Connecticut was a path that many free persons of African heritage took to build prosperous lives within 19th century enclaves that placed character and family over prevalent racial bigotry that had engulfed early America.

1859 Wedding Cup of George & Frances Barclay

Pocket Watch of George T. Barclay, c. 1895

The Barclay family in Bridgeport become active in many cultural and civic affairs with George Barclay becoming a 19th century leader in Little Liberia, following in his father’s footsteps by establishing the Doric Masonic Lodge #4 in 1872 and operating a string of barber shop businesses along with being the clerk for city police department.
George Barclay would die in 1902 and with other immediate family members is buried in the historic Mountain Grove Cemetery in Bridgeport.