Black History Month

Black History Month

The African American Heritage Trail

2/3/2024 | Marina Montez-Ellis, Garden Program Specialist

The African American Heritage Trail is a collaboration of community members and organizations to celebrate the contributions and history of African Americans in Champaign County. By visiting you will find maps of the trail's historical sites and cultural art honoring African Americans and their roots in Champaign County.

The Trail takes us to Ayers Township highlighting the contributions of the Gaines family.

In 1893, the Gaines Family (pictured below) settled in Ayers Township which is located between Homer and Broadlands. Anthony Albert Gaines and his wife, Dora Earnest Thomas, started a family and became one of the major Black family farms in the county. Their daughter Helen and her husband Jessie C. Ward eventually took over running the farm. In 1999, the farm was still in the family with grandson Eugene Ward living there renting out the last acreage into the 2000s.

#BlackHistoryMonth , #africanamericanheritagetrail

Image Credit:

Anthony Albert Gaines Family, c. 1915, Tudor Collection, Homer Historical Society, Homer, IL. Left to right—1st row: daughters Mary G., Mable A., Helen L. 2nd row: A. A. Gaines, wife Dora Gaines, and Salona Smith Sexton.