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The Invisible History of African Americans in Cape Charles, Virginia

Created by The Invisible History of African Americans in Cape Charles, Virginia on December 15th 2022, 1:59:39 pm.

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The stories of African Americans are all but absent in the written and oral documentation of the history of Cape Charles, Virginia. This project aims to uncover their invisible history through oral history interviews and through a publicly available historical walking tour of African American sites, thereby preserving the accomplishments of the people associated with those sites, recognizing the heritage of their descendants, and fostering appreciation by all current residents of Cape Charles for the town's unique past. In the course of researching these stories we discovered that many of the families featured have descended from the Gingaskin Reservation, now known as Indiantown located in Eastville, that many have mixed ethnicities of the Accomacke and the Anishinaabe, Nussawadou and Lenape Indigenous peoples, who were largely absorbed into the unenslaved and enslaved African American community at Gingaskin reservation during the colonial era. Having been regarded as African Americans, their Indigenous identity have been rendered invisible through the centuries. And many on the Eastern Shore and the DelMarVa Peninsula could trace their lineage back to the Indigenous Peoples of Gingaskin. We would like our readers to be aware of these, and there are resources that we’ve included here for those who wish to have further information. Cognizant of this and the various names that people of African descent have been called since the colonial era based on the color of their skin from Negro, to Colored, Black, and African American, we chose the latter in our project as a consistent term to indicate all mixed heritage of African, European, Indigenous and Ethnic Peoples. Through this tour, we hope to not only to shed light on some of the stories and accomplishments of African Americans in Cape Charles, past and present, but to provide historical information for subsequent generations to know, reference, and cherish. This tour highlights sites and buildings significant to the African American community, though presently invisible in the written history of the town. We examine the impact and influence of this community on the town's development and progress so as to illuminate for residents and visitors alike what is relevant in the past in understanding the present. This is a beginning project and a living document which we plan to edit as needed. We encourage readers to submit their comments, after registering free with Clio, specifically additions and corrections and old photographs to enrich the stories that we have included here. Many who have come here to work in the railroad and the subsequent ferry terminal came from families who lived in surrounding older towns who shared similar stories to the people we have featured on this tour, however this walking tour will only tell the story of Cape Charles since its beginning as a railroad town in 1886. Acknowledgments: This walking tour is a community service project of the Invisible History Committee of the Rotary Club of Cape Charles made possible with support from Virginia Humanities and the Frances Bibbins Latimer Fund. Resources for further reading: