Local News

Despite Damage By Floyd, Princeville Celebrates 115th Birthday

Posted February 19, 2000

— Residents of the town of Princeville gathered at Edgecombe Community College to celebrate a milestone in the town's history.

The town was founded 115 years ago by freed slaves. But in 1865, Princeville was called "Freedom Hill."

This year, the town's celebration had new meaning.

In September 1999, Hurricane Floyd hit Eastern North Carolina and flooding left the town under water for ten days.

The floodwaters have receded, but homes are still unfit to live in. Still, at Sunday's celebration residents and town officials vowed not to let floodwaters wash away their traditions.

Ethel Carney and other residents lost everything they owned, but they have a rich history to hold on to -- a past no floodwaters could wash away.

"It was started by our forefathers," says Carney. "And I can't really tell you why or how I located there other than that it was the place I always wanted to live."

In November, Princeville town leaders voted against a federal buyout, so residents plan to rebuild the town in its original place.

"Regardless of what the obstacles might be we're determined to overcome them because we fill we have an obligation and a legacy that was passed on by our ancestors to pass on to our community and preserve its history," says Glennie Matthewson, former Princeville mayor.

After living in Princeville for the past 50 years, Carney has a vision for the future.

"I hope and wish it was possible that everybody that was over there could go back, rebuild and start over," Carney says.


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