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

Historic Princeville

From Slavery to Freedom Hill

Historic Princeville Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, February 14, 2014
1. Historic Princeville Marker
Inscription.  During the Civil War, thousands of slaves escaped to U.S. Army lines, and more than thirty African Americans from Edgecombe County enlisted in the 35th, 36th, and 37th U.S. Colored Troops, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery, and U.S. Navy. After the war, former slaves sought refuge at a U.S. Army camp located here on the plantations of John Lloyd and Lafayette Dancy. The freedmen called their settlement of huts and shanties on the Tar River floodplain Freedom Hill.

Freedman Turner Prince, a carpenter born into slavery in 1843, acquired a lot here in 1873, built a house, and constructed other permanent dwellings for the residents. By 1880, the population was 379; occupational categories included laborer, laundress, washerwoman, carpenter, blacksmith, grocer, seamstress, and brick mason. In 1885, the North Carolina legislature incorporated the town, which its occupants named Princeville in their carpenter's honor. Princeville was the first all-black town and independently governed African American community incorporated in the United States.

The town struggled to survive during the Jim Crow era, defeating efforts early in
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the twentieth century to annex it to Tarboro. Princeville's population increased to 636 by 1910, then declined as black Southerners migrated north. The population later rose to 2,100 in the 1990s.

Princeville's location has subjected it to frequent flooding. A levee completed in 1965 protected the town until 1999, when Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd overtopped it in the worst flood on record here. Princeville's residents soon began rebuilding their historic community, repairing houses and constructing new homes, a town hall, a park, and an African American history museum.
Erected by Civil War Trails North Carolina.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWars, Non-US. A significant historical year for this entry is 1843.
Location. 35° 53.422′ N, 77° 31.582′ W. Marker is in Princeville, North Carolina, in Edgecombe County. Marker is on Mutual Boulevard (U.S. 258) west of South Main Street (Business U.S. 64), on the right. It is at the parking lot of the Museum / Welcome Center. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Tarboro NC 27886, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Freedom Hill (approx. ¼ mile away); St. Paul A.M.E. Zion Church (approx. half a mile away); George H. White (approx. half a mile away); Knights of Labor
Historic Princeville Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, February 14, 2014
2. Historic Princeville Marker
(approx. 0.6 miles away); Civil War Cemeteries (approx. 0.6 miles away); W.D. Pender (approx. 0.7 miles away); W.L. Saunders (approx. 0.7 miles away); John C. Dancy (approx. 0.7 miles away).
More about this marker. There are four images reproduced on this marker with the these captions: “Princeville residential area in the snow, early 20th century” “Princeville grocery store, commercial area, early 20th century” “ ‘Comimg into the Lines’ by combat artist Edwin Forbes, shows escaped slaves passing two Union soldiers” and “Brothers in Arms.”
Regarding Historic Princeville. Princeville is the oldest town incorporated by African-Americans in the United States.
Museum / Welcome Center image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, February 14, 2014
3. Museum / Welcome Center
Passing into the Lines image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Edwin Forbes
4. Passing into the Lines
This image from the Library of Congress is one of the images reproduced on the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 31, 2014, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 964 times since then and 97 times this year. Last updated on June 1, 2014, by Keith S Smith of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 31, 2014, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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May. 31, 2023