The ship arrived in Mobile, Alabama in 1860 and was built by Timothy Meaher in 1856. The ship was 86 feet long and 23 feet wide with a copper hull. The goal was to elude the federal government and bring back slaves to work as labors. Federal laws in 1808 prohibited bringing slaves into the United States, however 50 years later a ship was still maneuvering through the sea to the United States with slaves aboard. The last group of slaves were from the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa.
The ship was under the command of William Foster, and to keep from being discovered by the federal authorities, the slaves were transferred from the ship to a river boat. The ship (Clotilda) was burned to hide evidence of the illegal trade. An interesting fact is that once the riverboat made land many of the slaves were distributed to some investors but 32 of them were left to fend for themselves. The federal government had found out about the illegal activities and prosecuted Meaher and Foster. While Meaher was waiting trial the slaves who were left on his property escaped and eventually started a life on their own. The case against Meaher and Foster was eventually dropped because lack of evidence. However, Meaher and Foster never made any money off the stolen Africans.
The Africans set up and established their own community on the banks of the Mobile River. The group built their own shelters out of whatever they found in the woods. They adapted to hunting and cooking rich game in the area. After the Civil War and emancipation, there were many other tribesmen who joined them. One man known as Charlie Poteet was their chief and their medicine man was named Jabez. The town today still exist and is known as Africatown. Most of the community is located within the northern city limits. of Alabama. The last survivor of the original African group was Cudjoe Kazoola Lews who lived until 1935.