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Editorial: As traces of black homesteader towns in West disappear, USNPS is failing at Nicodemus NHS

Ever heard of Blackdom in New Mexico? Dearfield in Colorado? What about DeWitty in Nebraska? Didn't think so. Neither had I several years ago. But they were once vibrant African-American homesteading communities. Today their buildings are falling to ruin, their locations are mostly unmarked, and the achievements of their pioneers are mostly forgotten.

At Dearfield, the walls and roof of the lunchroom, once an important gathering place, have collapsed. The decaying building sits behind a chain-link fence. The substantial wood-frame house of the settlement's founder, Oliver Toussaint Jackson, built in 1918, has been vandalized. Although listed in 1995 on the National Register of Historic Places, and despite local efforts to save it, Dearfield is undergoing demolition by neglect.


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