Monthly Archives: March 2016
Photos of the slave and tenant house at Bacon’s Castle (ca. 1665). We had the opportunity to visit during an event a few years ago. I’d suffered a bilateral lower leg fracture some months prior, so those present would remember my fashionable orthopedic boot. Physical discomfort aside, it was an amazing experience. There were a few descendants of slaves and former tenant workers present. One descendant, Lucy, recounted memories of growing up at Bacon’s Castle. Her family had once lived in a similar structure, and she could vividly remember the sound of the rain on the building’s tin roof. It’s in these stories that history becomes a tangible thing, and connects with our present day.
A historical wayside marker in front of the house reads:
This building was first constructed in 1829 by the Cocke family, descendants of Arthur Allen. There was a single entry door and a porch. In 1834 there were eighty slaves working on the property, some of whom were probably housed in this building. The Hankins family, who owned the property during the Civil War, added an addition and possibly removed the porch in 1849. The floor plan today matches what would have been present in the late 1800s.
In the 1940s, several families were still living on the Bacon’s Castle property. The slave house was wired for electricity and a small kitchen added to the back of the building. Although three or four enslaved families would have lived here prior to the Civil War, the interior was modified to accommodate only one or two tenants after the war. The kitchen addition was removed in the 1990s, returning the building to its antebellum appearance.
“On March 3, 1891, legislation passed creating a Normal and Industrial School in Elizabeth City. The school was founded with the express purpose of ‘teaching and training teachers of the colored race to teach in the common schools of North Carolina.’
The bill began in the House of Representatives and was championed by Hugh Cale, an African American who represented Pasquotank County. Cale, who was a free person of color before the Civil War, had been involved in African American education immediately following the Civil War and served on the Pasquotank County Board of Education.
The Normal School extended its mission under the guidance of its first principal, Peter Weddick Moore. In 1937, it expanded from a two-year program to a four-year teacher’s college and received a new name to reflect that change–Elizabeth City Teachers College. The first bachelor’s degree was awarded by the school in 1939 in elementary education.
In 1972, the college became part of the consolidated University of North Carolina system and was renamed Elizabeth City State University. To commemorate the school’s centennial in 1991, the General Assembly honored Cale and the university with a bill setting a special mock session.”
I visited Oak Grove Cemetery (est. 1886), on November 2, 2013. Included below are photographs of the gravestone of Hugh Cale (1829-1909), Oak Grove Cemetery’s entrance gate, and the historical marker and street sign placed in honor of Hugh Cale.