My Contribution: My wife and I escaped slavery in Berryville, Virginia during the Civil War by accompanying wounded soldiers to Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. I took great interest in other former slaves and newcomers to Harrisburg and assisted them in buying land and building homes in Verbeketown, a community built on land donated by William K. Verbeke. I was active in the politics of the Sixth Ward and became a prominent man with a large number of friends who stood by me. I was especially dedicated to my Baptist Church and served the community as a deacon and fundraiser.
My Legacy: Through the social, political, and faith-based connections I built in Harrisburg, I left a rich legacy of helping others in my family and community. Vebeketown developed into an important community for African American residents. I was so well known in my time that I was known around Harrisburg as “Uncle Dan”.
About Me: “Daniel Potter, one of the leading politicians of the Second precinct of the Sixth ward, and who has been employed about the Capitol grounds for a number of years.” Harrisburg Telegraph, November 9, 1899.
“‘Uncle Dan’, long active in politics and helpful leader to his race.” Article, unknown newspaper, December 1945.
Full Name: Daniel G. Potter, Sr.
Birth Date: December 1, 1842
Death Date: December 12, 1945
Place of Birth: Berryville, Virginia
Race: Black (1900 – 1920 Federal Censuses)
Places of Residence: Home of George and Ann Massey Pottery in Berrysville, Virginia; 1423 Marion Street, 328 Calder Street, 1325 Marion Street, and 1375 and 1825 N. 4th Street in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Knew many individuals in the ward.
Family Members: Siblings: George Potter, Richard Potter, Matilda Potter Puller. Wife: Betsy Ann (Smith) Potter of Berryville, Virginia. Children: Charles Potter, Elizabeth Potter, Richard Potter, Daniel G. Potter, Jr., George L. Potter, Layton Potter, Elizabeth “Bessie” M. Potter, and Thomas Potter.
Education: No known formal education.
Occupations: Harrisburg Car Shop. Day Laborer. Custodian, cleaner, and caretaker on Capitol Hill for over 34 years. Tipstaff in Dauphin County Court.
Church Membership: Marion Street Primitive Baptist Church, member, deacon, and chairman of the Building Committee; Zion Baptist Church.
Activism: Active in Republican politics representing the Second Precinct of the Sixth Ward; nominated for county commissioner, part of committee who organized an event for Black residents of Harrisburg and Steelton about race problems in the region in 1917.
Connections: Roscoe C. Astwood, James M. Auter, A. Dennee Bibbs, Frisby C. Battis, Cassius Brown, Harry Burrs, Charles Crampton, Turner Cooper, C. Sylvester Jackson, Dr. A. Leslie Marshall, Rev. W.H. Marshall, Percy C. Moore, Robert J. Nelson, Luther Newman, Joseph Popel, John P. Scott, and Colonel William Strothers.