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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Eden in Rockingham County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

“River boat Men: Dan River, 1792 – 1892”

A Tribute

 
 
“River boat Men: Dan River, 1792 – 1892” Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
1. “River boat Men: Dan River, 1792 – 1892” Marker
Inscription.
The mural of the river boatmen is a tribute to the men who were responsible for the economic development of the vast interior region along the Dan River. The most prominent figures in the mural, the African American boatmen in the foreground, reflect dignity and the communityís respect for them. The little known role of these boatmen is honored by this mural, which proclaims their important legacy to the community.

Throughout the nineteenth century in an era of poor roads, goods were transported by the bateaux until the arrival of railroads. Prior to the Civil War the batteaumen were primarily enslaved and free blacks and some whites. There is evidence of some boats being crewed entirely by slaves, including the captain. Regardless of their personal status, boatmen were respected for their boat building expertise and especially for their skills as pilots on the river. The figure in the mural with his hand on the sweep (tiller) is the batteau captain and pilot, responsible for the safe arrival of the boatís crew and cargo.

After the Civil War, batteaumen were the regionís most important black entrepreneurs, continuing their dominance as builders, captains, and crewmen of the vessels, and becoming the owners as well. By 1870 there were some 200 batteaux on the river. The boatmen lived mostly in the river ports of Madison,
“River boat Men: Dan River, 1792 – 1892” Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
2. “River boat Men: Dan River, 1792 – 1892” Marker
Leaksville, and Milton in North Carolina and in the Virginia ports of South Boston, Clarksville, and especially in Danville, the riverís largest city. Edward Pollock of Danville wrote in 1870 that the boatmen were “important persons” valued for their skills who “wielded a certain amount of influence in the community.”
Lindley Butler
Rockingham County Historian

 
Location. 36° 29.402′ N, 79° 45.86′ W. Marker is in Eden, North Carolina, in Rockingham County. Marker is at the intersection of Washington Street and Henry Street, on the right when traveling east on Washington Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Eden NC 27289, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. “Land of Eden” (approx. 0.2 miles away); Annie Eliza Johns (approx. ľ mile away); Leaksville Landing (approx. ľ mile away); Dan River (approx. 0.3 miles away); Luther H. Hodges (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named “Land of Eden” (approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Land of Eden (approx. 0.6 miles away); Leaksville Cotton Mill (approx. one mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Eden.
 
Categories. African AmericansIndustry & CommerceWaterways & Vessels
 
River boat Men Marker and Mural image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
3. River boat Men Marker and Mural
River boat Men Mural image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
4. River boat Men Mural
Marker and Mural in Eden image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
5. Marker and Mural in Eden
Mural Sponsor Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, February 4, 2013
6. Mural Sponsor Plaque
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 268 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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