• June 20, 2021

When ‘the first black boat’ went into service

PONTIAC, Mich.

— A pioneer craft that was first to sail across the Atlantic Ocean and bring the first African-American men to the West Coast in 1821 is set to be auctioned off for $5 million.

The 1821 Pioneer Day Boat, a black sailboat, will be on display in Poconos Historical Museum until March 13, and the sale will be held March 14-18 at the historic Pocono Lake.

Its maker, John D. Stevens, will receive a $1.8 million cash prize, and a plaque will be erected on the lake to commemorate Pioneer Day.

The boat was built by African-Americans, many of them pioneers, for $25 and went into the water at the age of 17 on Dec. 6, 1821.

Pioneer Day was a holiday celebrated in the United States in celebration of the arrival of African- Americans on the West coast in 1820.

It was an opportunity to mark the first arrival of black people to America.

Aboriginal leaders in the Poconotas welcomed the boat’s arrival and used it as an example of what African- American pioneers were able to achieve when they worked together.

In the 1920s, Stevens was appointed president of the Plymouth Bay Colony, the largest settlement on the coast of Michigan.

He died in 1981.

Copyright Associated Press