After emancipation in Maryland in 1864, thousands of African Americans in rural Montgomery County faced an uncertain future. They responded by forming tight-knit communities, determined to prove their potential to themselves and others.

The story of Sugarland is a chronicle of remarkable self-sufficiency. In a corner of the countryside just 20 miles from the nation’s capital, the Sugarland families owned 200 acres of farmland after the Civil War. At its height, their town boasted a schoolhouse, a general store, a post office, a practice hall for a cornet band, and a church that still stands today. Their history is full of surprising turns that show a community deeply engaged with the wider world, a place where neighbors worked together to imbue their children with a lasting appreciation of family and faith.

Today, the nonprofit Sugarland Ethno-History Project maintains the community’s historic church and cemetery and works to share this important chapter in American history with the wider public. Overseen by descendants of the original founders, the SEHP also maintains a vast collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents for anyone conducting historical or genealogical research.

To learn more about Sugarland from emancipation to the present day, please order a copy of our award-winning 2020 book I Have Started for Canaan: The Story of the African American Town of Sugarland, the first full-length history of a Reconstruction-era African American town in Maryland. We also invite you to contact us with any questions at info@sugarlandproject.org or arrange for a visit and tour.