The first settler to Dresden was Jared Lindsley, who settled on the present day site of Dresden in 1825. In 1846 Daniel Van Allen, a Chatham merchant, purchased a plot of land from Lindsley and set about to lay out a town plot. 1849 saw the completion of a steam powered sawmill and with the regions lumber resources and close proximity to the Sydenham River the community prospered. In 1871 Dresden became a Village and ten years later a town.
Dresden owes much of it’s existence to the Underground Railway, and another famous character…”Uncle Tom”. Rev. Josiah Henson was born into slavery but escaped from Kentucky with his family in 1830. After meeting Harriet Beecher Stowe in Boston, Henson became the model for the character of Uncle Tom in Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin , published in 1852. Henson, with the help of abolitionists, purchased a 200 acre property and founded the British American Institute, a school and place of refuge for former slaves.
Today Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site commemorates the life of Reverend Josiah Henson, founder of Dawn Institute Settlement and his contributions to the famous Underground Railroad. This historic site is a dynamic cultural tourism attraction and legacy of early black history.