Curtis Hardison’s new book Griot: The Evolution of Edgecombe tells the story of a little African American community near Topsail Island called Edgecombe. Hardison grew up there, and his book chronicles his extraordinary journey in search of the community’s roots.
The Lighters at Clubfoot Creek
My friend Betty Motes recently told me a story about a flotilla of boatmen and their families that used to come from the shipyards of Camden, New Jersey, and spend their winters on Clubfoot Creek.
The Mullet Fishermen of Punta Gorda
The first fisherman from Carteret County, N.C., that I found in Punta Gorda, Florida, was a man named John C. Lewis. He was born in Beaufort in 1847 and he was the son of Anson and Irene Lewis, outfitters of sailing ships.
The Mullet Fishermen: A Journey from Carteret County, N.C. to Cortez, Florida
In the 1880s fishermen began to leave Carteret County, N.C., and go to the mullet fishing grounds of Southwest Florida, where they made new homes in places such as Cortez and Punta Gorda.
“All Roads Lead Back to North Carolina”
Whether they were in New York City, Boston or Hartford, the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina kept a close eye on what was happening back home in the Tar Heel State.
Emancipation Day At Mother Zion
On January 12, 1934, the New York City chapter of the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina held an Emancipation Day celebration at Mother AME Zion Church in Harlem, one of the most historic churches in America.
Worcester, Mass., 1888: The Sons and Daughters of North Carolina (Part 3)
While doing research on her family’s history, Yvette Porter Moore discovered that her ancestors had organized a chapter of the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina in Worcester, Mass., in the fall of 1888.
The Sons and Daughters of North Carolina II
The second time that the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina made national headlines was the 1st of December, 1898, when they gathered at Association Hall in Brooklyn, N.Y., to protest the Wilmington, N.C., massacre and coup d’etat of 1898.
The Sons and Daughters of North Carolina
The first time that the Sons and Daughters of North Carolina attracted national attention was a winter night in Brooklyn, New York, in 1897. Composed of African American migrants who had left North Carolina, the group was holding a memorial service in honor of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Hard Times: Voices from the Great Depression on the North Carolina Coast
At the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, I found a remarkable collection of oral history interviews from the North Carolina coast during the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Building Fort Bragg II: The Puerto Rican Migrant Workers of 1918
Today I want to look at the story of Puerto Rican construction workers that helped to build Fort Bragg at the end of WW1. Theirs is a little-known tale of war, colonialism and migration, and it is one set against the background of the country's last deadly pandemic, the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-19.
The Voyage to Bayou Lafourche
Now preserved at the National Archives, a slave manifest indicates that 66 of Augustin Pugh's slaves from Bertie County, N.C., sailed on the brig Calypso out of Norfolk, Va., on April 3, 1819. They were bound for New Orleans, and more than half of them were ten years old or younger.
The Migrants in the Potato Fields
I discovered another forgotten chapter in eastern North Carolina's history while I was exploring the Farm Security Administration (FSA)'s photographs at the Library of Congress-- it is a story about the migrant farm workers that harvested the region's crops in the 1930s and '40s.
Building Fort Bragg: The Migrant Workers of 1940-41
This week I've been looking at another remarkable collection of historical photographs. Now preserved at the Library of Congress, they were taken by a documentary photographer named Jack Delano in the camps of the migrant construction workers that built Fort Bragg, N.C., one of the largest military installations in the world.
A Local History of Human Trafficking
This essay originated in discussions with Dr. Makini Chisolm-Straker and Katherine Chon on the history of human trafficking in the American South-- and especially in eastern North Carolina.
Their Eyes, Their Faces
I always wonder what happened to them-- the men, women and children that fled Wilmington after the massacre in 1898. I thought of that again just a few days ago when I stumbled onto one of them in a place that I never would have expected-- a catalog for an art exhibit at the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum in Boston.
The Turpentine Trail
North Carolina’s dominance of the nation’s naval stores industry began to change drastically in the decades after the Civil War. By that time, the industry was destroying the region’s longleaf pine forest. In a frenzied half century of exploitation, the state’s longleaf pine forest fell from an estimated 4-5 million acres to less than 60,000 acres. Travelers began to describe train trips through eastern North Carolina’s pine forests in which they did not see a single tree that did not have the V-shaped scars that were characteristic of tapping.
Ocracoke and Philadelphia– An Outer Banks Village, a Great Seaport and the Bond between Them
“This used to be an island where the men went to sea.” That’s what 95-year-old Blanche Howard Jolliff told me a few years ago, when I visited her on Ocracoke Island, one of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I was the guest of her cousin Philip and his family next door, and Philip took me by to see her.
I never grow tired of looking at them: the faces in these old photographs. They are immigrants that settled in eastern North Carolina in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They came from Russia, Syria, Lebanon, Norway, Greece, Poland and many other far-off lands.
The Quaker Map: From Harlowe to Mill Creek
I recently found this map in an old book called The Williams History: Tracing the Descendants in America of Robert Williams, of Ruthin, North Wales, who Settled in Carteret County, North Carolina, in 1763. The map describes a largely forgotten group of Quaker settlements that flourished on the North Carolina coast more than 200 years ago.
Inhabitants of all Nations, 1801
This is the 9th part of my series on Susan Edwards Johnson's diary of her travels on the North Carolina coast in 1800 and 1801. I found the diary last spring at the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Conn.
Arthur Miller’s War, Part 2– “A shipyard has risen like a bony giant”
“The scene is a row of trailers,” Arthur Miller intoned in the first words of the field recordings. When I first turned on the old reel-to-reel recorder at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, I found the young playwright standing in a vast trailer camp that had been built in a maddening rush only a few months earlier.
A Story from the Jewish Museum in New York City
When my wife and I visited New York City a few weeks ago, we stayed at a hotel next to the Jewish Museum. I had never been to the museum, and on the morning before my wife gave a lecture at Mt. Sinai Hospital (the reason for our trip), we visited the museum. The Jewish Museum's collections cover 4,000 years of history and include 30,000 objects of art, Judaica and antiquities from around the world. But I, of course, Iooked through the museum’s collections for anything related to the history of the North Carolina coast.
Indian Woods Homecoming
I first got an inkling of how much Indian Woods, in Bertie County, N.C., still means to the Tuscarora people in New York State when I was listening to a talk by a Tuscarora teacher named Vince Shiffert. At the time, I was at an extraordinary conference called “Three Hundred Years at Indian Woods.”