The historic Dennis Farm in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, became the first recipient of a permanent Semiquincentennial Bell from America250PA. The bell is a replica of the Liberty Bell, and is inscribed with the words “When the nation was young, our free African American ancestors owned and farmed this beautiful place against great odds.” It was dedicated to the farm in a ceremony on June 28th that celebrated its rich history and significance as a symbol of African American freedom and resilience. Coterra was a proud sponsor of the event and we were thrilled that our ties to both organizations helped facilitate this wonderful milestone in the campaign to celebrate America’s 250th birthday in 2026. 

The Dennis Farm was founded in 1793 by Prince Perkins, a free African American who migrated to Pennsylvania from Connecticut after the Revolutionary War. Perkins and his family worked hard to build a successful farm, and they became respected members of the community. The farm remained in the Perkins family for generations and it is now owned by Denise Dennis, a direct descendant of Prince Perkins. She is also the Founder and CEO of the Dennis Farm Charitable Land Trust.

“This is one of the peak historic moments in the long history of the Dennis Family Farm, this is a memorable day, because now the commonwealth of Pennsylvania has recognized a farming family, regular ordinary Americans, who as the bell says overcame great odds as free black people in a nation where 90% of black people were not free,” said Denise.

The ceremony to dedicate the bell was attended by a number of local and state dignitaries, including Auditor General Timothy L. DeFoor, along with United States Senator Bob Casey and Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity. Also in attendance were members of the Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial (America250PA). Executive Director America250PA, Cassandra Coleman. She shared, “We are just honored to be able to partner with the Dennis Farm to truly tell the story of this farm, which was founded by free African Americans over 200 years ago, and for us the Semiquincentennial Bell represents a way to be able to highlight stories that may have been left out of the history books.” 

The dedication of the Semiquincentennial Bell at the Dennis Farm is a significant event in the history of the farm and the community. The bell is a reminder of the farm’s rich history and its role in the fight for racial equality. It is also a symbol of hope for the future, and it reminds us that we must continue to work towards a more just and equitable society. Cassandra added, “This is the first bell. We are looking to have a handful of them across the Commonwealth at historic sites or to highlight stories across the Commonwealth.”

In addition to the bell dedication, the event also included a luncheon at Keystone College and a tour of the Dennis Farm. The luncheon was an opportunity for attendees to learn more about the farm’s history and its significance. The tour gave attendees a chance to see the farm’s beautiful grounds and learn about its agricultural practices.

Be sure to connect with America250PA to see where the next bell will be located!