Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Freedmen's Colony

Yesterday I mentioned the book, Fire on the Beach, an account of Richard Etheridge and the Outer Banks' only all black life saving station. Today I call your attention to the Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony. This little known community, which was established on Roanoke Island during the Union occupation of the Outer Banks early in the Civil War, was home to thousands of former slaves.

Forgotten by most historians for many years, renewed interest in the Freedmen's Colony began nearly 30 years ago. Today a web site,, presents a history of the colony with documents, maps, and much more.

Moreover, on February 26 the 2010 annual celebration of the colony will be held at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, North Carolina. There will be a blues concert, play, and more (please confirm details, dates and times with Roanoke Festival Park). If you are in the area consider making time to learn about this intriguing part of Outer Banks history.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of Ocracoker, Kelly O'Neal, and the 1951 revolution in Siam (Thailand). You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Phillip - will you be at the concert? I understand there will be a surprise guest.

  2. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Okay, Phillip, more silly questions:

    1 - Where do Ocracokers generally buy things like coffeemakers or kitchen appliances, bed linens, etc.?

    2 - Is it possible to ride bikes on the beach? I've seen people riding bikes on other beaches, but never on Ocracoke.

    3 - Are there nice, sandy beaches on the sound side of the island, or are those reserved for the ocean side?

    4 - The map you have on your website "The Complete Illustrated Map of Ocracoke Island" ... is that a modern-day or historical map?

    5 - Where do people go to watch the fireworks? The life-guarded beach? Can they be seen from the village or do the trees obscure the view?

    Thanks (again!), Jackie

  3. Anonymous & Jackie -- I've answered your questions in Thursday's post (Feb. 25, 2010).

  4. There is a short video from WRAL television in Raleigh about the Life Saving Station. You can view it at

  5. Speed, thanks for the WRAL link. I published it in my second blog this morning (Friday, Feb. 26)