This site is intended to provide its visitors with an in-depth view and review of the historic place, La Mott, Pennsylvania. Not only is this location significant in American history because it was the home of the first federal training site for black soldiers during the American Civil War, but also because of its location in one of the nation’s oldest communities. That location, Cheltenham, just north of Philadelphia was the site to which William Penn sold several plots of land to fifteen English Quakers, who took part in his “experiment” in the New World. The year was 1681, one hundred and eighty-two years before the establishment of the training camp called Camp William Penn. The significance of a place to train men to fight a war that was named after a Quaker was more than coincidental.
However this site is not just about Camp William Penn and the members of the United States Colored Troops who were trained there. It is a virtual history of what the area was like before there was a camp, it references the people who were important to the area and the growth of America. After the war, when La Mott got its name, it follows the growth of Cheltenham Township. The web site chronicles the family histories of some of the early residents. As growth continued, the site follows the growth and brings the visitor to what is current in many aspects of Cheltenham and even those areas surrounding the Township.
La Mott, a residential section of Cheltenham Township, once known as Camp William Penn during the late years of the American Civil War, is now the home of hundreds of homes and thousands of persons who live in racial and ethnic harmony. The area is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
On May 22, 1863 the U.S. War department established the Bureau of Colored Troops. On June 10, 1863 a group of citizens who supported this idea petitioned Secretary of War Stanton for permission to raise black regiments In Philadelphia. Several days later Stanton gave his permission and shortly thereafter, land donated by Quakers in the Cheltenham area known as Chelten Hills was used to establish a federal training site called Camp William Penn.
Eleven regiments of black soldiers designated the United States Colored Troops were trained at Camp William Penn. Who they were and the legends they created as they fought for the Union Army during the American Civil War have resided on the dark, dusty shelves of history for more than a century. This section places a modern day light on Who They Were and What The Did.
Once the war was over and the Union was victorious, the barracks of Camptown were torn down and the village of La Mott was born. Through the efforts of latter-day relatives of some of the original families in the area, what was once the campgrounds of a military camp became more than just a historic footnote in the annals of the American Civil War. This section follows that progress and brings the visitor to La Mott today.