Black Heritage vs. Gas Rights

Working on a story with Inquirer writer Andy Maykuth, I spent time this week with Denise Dennis who is deciding whether to allow access to her family's farm and the natural gas reserves of the Marcellus Shale below. That decision is complicated by her family's history.  Her ancestors were free African Americans who were among the first farmers to settle in northeast Pennsylvania in 1793.

I found her family history extraordinary and facinating. "Not all blacks were slaves from the South," Denise told Andy. "This place is a reminder that we also owned property in the United States - we had a stake in this country."


The 153-acre farm in Susquehanna County has remained in the family for seven generations. There are more photos here, and you can read Andy's Sunday newspaper story here.