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Home North Carolina Craven County City of James City Historical Markers James City

James City

US 70, James City, NC, USA
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Community founded here in 1863 as resettlement camp for freed slaves. Named for Horace James, Union Army chaplain."
     Joe A. Mobley, author of a study of James City, has called Civil War-era New Bern a “Mecca for freedom.” Seized by Federal forces in 1862, the city quickly became a refugee center for thousands of eastern North Carolina slaves seeking freedom and safety behind Union lines. In an effort to accommodate them the U.S. Army established three resettlement camps. These were consolidated in 1863 into one, known as the “Trent River settlement,” located on land that once belonged to the family of Richard Dobbs Spaight.

     The Reverend Horace James (1818-1875), chaplain of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts Regiment, was the superintendent of the camp. Near the close of the war the community was renamed James City in recognition of his accomplishments on behalf of the new residents. In the postwar period James served as assistant commissioner of the Freedman’s Bureau for North Carolina.

     James City remained a cohesive black community until about 1900, its people economically productive and politically active. Their primary goal was to obtain permanent ownership of the land on which they resided as tenants. When they failed to win their court case in 1893, their community began to dissolve. Still, James City continues to exist to this day as an unincorporated area of about 700 residents, most of them African Americans.

Joe A. Mobley, James City: A Black Community in North Carolina, 1863-1900 (1981)
Alan D. Watson, A History of New Bern and Craven County (1987)
Related Themes: C.S.A., Confederate States of America, Confederacy
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