George DeBaptiste, a long-time Mason, and one of Detroit's most active and impassioned black community leaders, lived on this site during the 1850s and 60s. Born in Virginia about 1815, he moved to Madison, Indiana in 1838 and became involved in the Underground Railroad. Forced to leave because of his anti-slavery activities, DeBaptiste became the personal valet of General William Henry Harrison, whom he accompanied to the White House as a steward. In 1846, DeBaptiste came to Detroit and conducted several successful businesses. At the same time he served as a delegate to the Cleveland National Convention of Colored Citizens, and as an agent for the Freedman's Aid Commission. During the Civil War, he served as an organizer of Michigan's Colored Regiment. DeBaptiste died in 1875.
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