THURMONT, Md. (DC News Now) — A documentary called “America’s Hidden Stories: Forged in Slavery” will soon air on the Smithsonian Channel.
Filming for the documentary began in 2021 and will take a look at who the enslaved ironworkers of Catoctin Furnace were and what happened to their community.
Crystal Claggette said she’s a descendant of Robert Patterson, a free African American who was an ironworker at the Catoctin Furnace.
“I hope that it inspires someone else to not give up on doing their family history,” Claggette said. “I never dreamed that I would find my third great Grandfather’s father.”
At least 271 enslaved Africans made up the bulk of Catoctin Furnace’s earliest workers.
Elizabeth Comer, president of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society said the ironworkers were able to take iron ores, limestones, charcoal and some waterpower to produce iron and then create “beautiful stoves and pots and fireback.”
“It’s the story though of the enslaved Africans and the free African Americans who were the skilled laborers here, but being featured in a documentary like this is new ground for us,” Comer said.
Comer hopes more people can trace their lineage to the ironworkers.
A premiere of the documentary will be shown tonight at 7 p.m. at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, Md.