Augustus West, an African American, was born in Madison County, Virginia on March 20, 1814, and moved to Ohio in 1837. Legend has it that West was a runaway slave and worked as a farm laborer before designing a scheme to purchase his own farm. West, with abolitionist Alexander Beatty, traveled into slave territory no fewer than three times where the pair would sell West, help him escape, and split the profits. After splitting the profits, West used his portion of the money to purchase 177 acres of land in Fayette County where he built his "mansion." To remain inconspicuous and secure, West built the "mansion" as far from the main road as possible.
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Access to the "mansion" came by way of a road, later known as "Abolition Lane." Homes owned by other abolitionists, both black and white, were located along the lane and these residents were active on the Underground Railroad. To help integrate the newly emancipated slaves into society following the Civil War, Augustus West provided a place for them to live. A series of cabins was built on his farm near the "mansion," forming the first free standing African American community in Fayette County. Further down the road, local residents built a schoolhouse on a hilltop. As of 2003, "Abolition Lane" was little more than a gravel path and the West "mansion" aged beyond repair.