11. The Hills, Westchester

Stoney Hill Cemetery burial marker

The Hills was one of the free Black communities in Westchester County, the home of the largest concentration of African Americans in the county through 1870. The Hills was located in modern-day Harrison, North Castle, and White Plains. Many settlers were emancipated by religious groups such as the Quakers and the African Methodist Episcopal Zionists, and the community developed a church, school, and cemetery. The first documents date the Hills back to 1790, and many letters and census data survive (since much of the population was literate).

Stoney Hill Cemetery is all that remains of the Hills today. The cemetery was part of a Quaker land grant to enslaved people who were voluntarily freed, and approximately 200 residents were buried there. As many as 36 residents are recorded fighting in the Civil War, 13 of whom are buried in the cemetery. The burial sites are marked with stone. markers and more recently, with American flags. The cemetery is one of the most significant Black history sites in Westchester, alongside the African American Cemetery in Rye. The Hills survived until around 1925, significantly longer than many New York City communities. Additionally, some free Blacks lived at other Westchester locations such as the Jay Estate in Rye, the home of Founding Father John Jay.