Although not as famous as a Virginian town of the same name, Jamestown, North Carolina, has a long and important history. This three-hundred-year-old town was instrumental in emancipation, trained and educated enslaved people before sending them to freedom, and was a Quaker cultural hub for over a hundred and fifty years.
This is the history and culture of Jamestown and why it’s turned into such a charming small city since then.
The first people to live in this area was the Keyauwee tribe. They were likely to have lived on this portion of land for hundreds of years but weren’t documented in the area until 1701. Chased south by English settlers making their way south while exploring the land, the Keyauwee people moved so close to South Carolina from North Carolina that the Catawba tribe eventually absorbed them.
Some artifacts from their time living on this land can be found in the Jamestown museum, and many in the area claim to be related to this tribe if they have any indigenous bloodlines.
The Quaker History
The history of Quakers in this area is what gave Jamestown its name and is why this area is such a pleasant space to live in. The Quakers who first moved here in the late 1700s were farmers and producers of furniture and animal products. Named after the founder’s grandfather, this town established a farmstead in 1762 and quickly became a popular place for Quakers. They wanted to enjoy their religion without judgment while working the land.
This family owned and operated Carolina’s first grist and lumber mills and owned most of the land on a plantation they created. This plantation was different from similar ones in the area for a few key reasons.
Enslaved People To Freedom
Although the average plantation in the south in the 1700s was a nightmare for enslaved people, the Jamestown plantation was a front for the Underground Railroad. Most homes in this area understood that it was vital to train enslaved people to do trades and jobs that could earn them an income and then send these newly qualified people out into the north to freedom.
It’s estimated this area saved the lives of over six thousand enslaved people, giving them the tools to succeed and then helping guide them to safety. In addition, as unrest occurred during the civil war, the local families were instrumental in assisting emancipation efforts to ensure that all people had the right to freedom.
A small museum in the city offers a glimpse into these times. It provides the chance to see false-bottomed wagons, secret passageways, and documents that show how many people were passed through this area to safety.
What It’s Like Today
Jamestown is a quiet and idyllic little town now. With fewer than 4,000 people calling it home, Jamestown apartments and houses are surprisingly affordable and available. This is a fantastic place to move if you want a little bit of history in your daily life. Although there’s still more to learn about the area, it’s offering a fantastic view into the selflessness of people with a cause.