Maria Murray Robinson (1840s-1900) was the first African-American woman known to have lived in Evanston. She was born into slavery in the 1840s. She came to Evanston as a free woman with the Allen Vane family in 1855, for whom she worked as a domestic. She was listed as a member of First Methodist Church of Evanston in 1859. She married George Robinson in 1868 and some years later they moved into a home at 325 Dempster Street. In 1882, Maria and George Robinson were among the founders of Second Baptist Church and later helped found Mount Zion Baptist Church. Maria Murray Robinson died in 1900 and was buried with the Vane family in Rosehill Cemetery.
Maria’s story is an important one for Evanston. The details of her life are hard to discover and she attained something of a legendary status in early Evanston. See this post by 2021 EWHP intern Sophia Weglarz for further exploration – https://evanstonwomen.org/2021/07/22/the-incredible-life-of-maria-murray-evanstons-first-black-resident/
More about her story can also be found in educational materials on the Evanston History Center website – https://www.evanstonhistorycenter.org/education/freedom-in-illinois-1850s-1860s/#_ftn2