In 2011, the Chowan Discovery Group submitted its first three nominations to the North Carolina Office of Archives and History for highway historical markers. It was the first time in memory that three nominations from one nominator were accepted at the same time. There are now nine markers installed from the Outer Banks to Raleigh. More nominations will be made to the panels of history professionals. Chowan Discovery lectures on its markers and advises others on historic markers. Our nine - soon to be ten - markers span events from 1584 to the 1960s.
In 1585, the second English expedition to North Carolina visited and later attacked the town of Dasemunkepeuc, which was on the mainland across from Roanoke Island. The third English expedition, led by John White, attacked it once again in 1587, and Dasemunkepeuc, like the Lost Colony ceased to exist. The Hatteras-Roanoke Indian Tribe hosted the dedication event in August, 2013 in Manteo. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
Also in 1585, the town of Aquascogoc welcomed the English. Because of a lost silver cup, the English explorer Richard Grenville burned Aquascogoc and its crops. This was the beginning of a series of English hostilities toward Carolina Algonkians that boded ill for the Lost Colony when they arrived in the summer of 1587. Also, the burning was the start of centuries-long atrocities against Native Americans by the English and successors. The town of Belhaven in Beaufort County is the site of Aquascogoc. Installed in 2013. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
The town of Choanoac was the largest coastal town in North Carolina in 1586 when the second English expedition on Roanoke Island explored the Chowan. The Choanoac/Chowanoke people controlled the Chowan River from the Virginia border to the Albemarle Sound. The meeting of the Choanoac and the English was the first recorded event in the Roanoke-Chowan area. Unveiled and installed outside of Harrellsville NC in 2010, this is Chowan Discovery's first historical marker. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
It was watermen of color who guided the Union Navy into North Carolina in 1862. Upon the capture of Roanoke Island, thousands of people, enslaved and free, escaped to the island. In 1863, the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony was founded to provide refuge, stability and growth the escapees. The dedication event was hosted by the Roanoke Island Freedmen’s Colony Preservation Association in February 2014. Many members of the Association are descendants of the Colony’s refugees. Several Winton Triangle men enlisted at Roanoke Island. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
In December of 1863, a great deal of the soldiers of Wild's Raid had been enslaved only months earlier. From Hampton Roads area of Virginia, they launched the first major combat operation in North Carolina by soldiers of color. Many of the soldiers were returning to their homes to rescue families and neighbors. About 2500 children, women and men were rescued. At least 26 soldiers were from Hertford County.
NC Highway Historical Marker description.
Sgt-Major Parker David Robbins, one of the most accomplished figures of the Winton Triangle area, was dedicated in 2012 in Robbins’ final home of Magnolia, NC. Robbins was a farmer, mechanic, high-ranking soldier, legislator, postmaster, inventor, sawmill and cotton gin owner and builder of houses and a steamboat. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
The North Carolina Colored State Fair (1879 – 1930) was founded by the North Carolina Industrial Association to “to place before the world every evidence of our progress as a race which it is possible to secure.” The North Carolina Colored State Fair represented efforts to promote the industrial, business, educational, agricultural, and community ideals of people of color – significant to the advancement of a state and a nation. Dedicated in Raleigh, April 2018.
Robert Lee Vann was born in 1879. He grew up in Ahoskie and Harrellsville, graduated from Waters Training School in Winton, and in 1910 began his law career in Pittsburgh. Under his stewardship, the Pittsburgh Courier grew from a one-sheet local paper to a national African-American newspaper with the largest circulation. Using law, politics and journalism, Vann made tremendous efforts to promote rights and equal opportunity for all Americans. The marker, located at the intersection of US 13 and NC 561, was erected in Ahoskie on April 20, 2012. Radio interview link. NC Highway Historic Marker description.
New Ahoskie Baptist Church and Chowan Discovery received the first North Carolina Civil Rights Trails marker in 2021. While the marker denotes the Civil Rights rallies held at New Ahoskie, the nomination includes other actions that resulted in fairer treatment of people of color. These include the issues of voting, education, employment, public safety, housing and social services. This marker is provided by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. See video.
Chowan Discovery's second North Carolina Civil Rights Trails marker was dedicated in February, 2023. The marker commemorates Civil Rights sit-ins held in Kinston, NC in the early 1960s. We worked with Reverend Roosevelt Whitehead, son of the one of the leaders of the sit-ins. This marker is provided by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation.