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New Bern in Craven County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

William Henry Singleton

From Slavery to Freedom

 
 
William Henry Singleton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., October 21, 2009
1. William Henry Singleton Marker
Inscription. During the Civil War, thousands of enslaved blacks freed themselves by escaping to Union lines. Craven County native William Henry Singleton (1843-1938) was one of them. According to his biography, Recollections of My Slavery Days (1922), as a child he was sold south to Atlanta but later escaped and returned to Craven County, where his mother concealed him. Finally caught, he remained on a local plantation until the war, when he accompanied a local officer as his body servant. He escaped from slavery during the March 1862 engagement at Wyse Fork in Lenoir County and fled to the Federal army in New Bern. Singleton asserted that he helped raise black troops for the Union, probably African-American “pioneers” who cleared roads and built fortifications, and “drilled” them at Andrew Chapel, the forerunner of St. Peterís African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, on Hancock Street. He also wrote that he met President Abraham Lincoln, likely at a meeting between Burnside and Lincoln at Fort Monroe in Virginia in July 1862. After the Emancipation Proclamation authorized the enlistment of black troops in 1863, Singleton served as a sergeant in the 35th U.S. Colored Troops in Georgia, Florida (where he was wounded in the leg in the Battle of Olustee), and South Carolina. He was mustered out in Charleston, S.C., on June
William Henry Singleton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., October 21, 2009
2. William Henry Singleton Marker
William Henry Singleton from Recollections of My Slavery Days
1, 1866. He later became a Methodist minister and resided in Connecticut and New York. During the Civil War, thousands of enslaved blacks freed themselves by escaping to Union lines. Craven County native William Henry Singleton (1843-1938) was one of them. According to his biography, Recollections of My Slavery Days (1922), as a child he was sold south to Atlanta but later escaped and returned to Craven County, where his mother concealed him. Finally caught, he remained on a local plantation until the war, when he accompanied a local officer as his body servant. He escaped from slavery during the March 1862 engagement at Wyse Fork in Lenoir County and fled to the Federal army in New Bern. Singleton asserted that he helped raise black troops for the Union, probably African-American “pioneers” who cleared roads and built fortifications, and “drilled” them at Andrew Chapel, the forerunner of St. Peterís African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, on Hancock Street. He also wrote that he met President Abraham Lincoln, likely at a meeting between Burnside and Lincoln at Fort Monroe in Virginia in July 1862. After the Emancipation Proclamation authorized the enlistment of black troops in 1863, Singleton served as a sergeant in the 35th U.S. Colored Troops in Georgia, Florida (where he was wounded in the leg in the Battle of Olustee), and South Carolina.
Unidentified brothers in arms, ca. 1863-1865. image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., October 21, 2009
3. Unidentified brothers in arms, ca. 1863-1865.
Photo is provided for use on the marker courtesy of the Library of Congress.
He was mustered out in Charleston, S.C., on June 1, 1866. He later became a Methodist minister and resided in Connecticut and New York.

The yellow sidebar gives a brief history of the church you see behind the marker. It reads:
In 1863, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion missionary James Walker Hood came to New Bern and Beaufort, where large numbers of black Methodists lived. Here in New Bern, the congregation of Andrew Chapel, constructed as a white Methodist church about 1802 on Hancock Street, affiliated with the A.M.E. Zion Church in 1864. The congregation changed its name to St. Peterís in 1879 and built a frame Gothic Revival-style church here. A brick building in the same style replaced it in 1914. After it was destroyed in the great fire of December 1, 1922, the congregation slowly rebuilt, completing the present building in 1942.
 
Erected by North Carolina Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the North Carolina Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 35° 6.647′ N, 77° 2.621′ W. Marker is in New Bern, North Carolina, in Craven County. Marker is on Queen Street near Johnson Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 617 Queen St, New Bern NC 28560, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
William Henry Singleton Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., October 21, 2009
4. William Henry Singleton Marker
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. Peter's A.M.E. Zion Church (here, next to this marker); Cedar Grove Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); King Solomon Lodge (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); New Bern Academy (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named New Bern Academy (approx. 0.2 miles away); James Walker Hood (approx. 0.2 miles away); George H. White (approx. 0.2 miles away); Tryon Palace (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in New Bern.
 
Also see . . .  Recollections of My Slavery Days. Online digital copy of Singleton's autobiography. (Submitted on November 9, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. African AmericansChurches, Etc.War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,506 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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