WESTON, Mo. — The Juneteenth Heritage Jubilee in Weston on Saturday, June 18 will be only the second time people have gathered in the town of roughly 1,700 to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

On the surface, it’s an unlikely place for the holiday. Census data shows that almost 95% of the population in Weston today is white.

If not for Angela Hagenbach‘s research into her own family history, the celebration might have never come together in the first place.

While looking up her own ancestors, Hagenbach found that her grandmother’s grandmother, Dinah Robinson, was an enslaved person brought to Weston, Missouri from what is now West Virginia in the mid 1800s.

“In 1859, she bought her freedom and her family’s freedom and in 1860, her former slave owners sold her this property,” Hagenbach said, standing in a small square between a park and street in Weston.

After digging through tax records, Hagenbach discovered Robinson owned a few pieces of land and was part of a bustling Weston community and its relatively large black community. One of those pieces will be rededicated as Dinah Robinson Courtyard, with a new sign, informational plaque, and bricks donning the names of Weston’s Black residents who were buried in a nearby cemetery in unmarked graves.

Hagenbach said since she started sharing information about the role black people played in Weston 150 years ago, the present-day citizens have been receptive to learning the history they never knew.

“There’s a lot of people that are ready to accept the fact that there’s more to America than white history,” Hagenbach said.

“Had Angela not been here, we wouldn’t have seen this kind of information come to life,” said Weston Chamber of Commerce Director Victoria Campbell. “It’s becoming a huge learning curve not only for myself but for a lot of people in Weston.”

Hagenbach created the Black Ancestors Awareness Campaign, which is already part of the Weston Historical Museum but is also looking to create its own space to showcase what Hagenbach has uncovered so far. She’s also hoping to help digitize records like the ones she searched through so other people can try to find out more about their lineage.

“It brings the community together, it brings people to better know Weston,” said Weston resident and BAAC Member Trisha Tataryn.

In a town steeped in history it’s proud to remember, Hagenbach has found the people who slipped through the cracks.

“It helps put humanity on these people that were forgotten,” Hagenbach said

. “For the most part in this country, they were intentionally forgotten.”

The event starts at 10 a.m. near the corner of Main Street and Short Street in Weston.

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