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A History of Princeville

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Princeville Town HallWRAL Photographer Joe Frieda
PRINCEVILLE — In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, agroup of freed slaves settled in a swampy area near Tarboro. They calledit Freedom Hill.

Living conditions were harsh with floods, poverty and disease.Former Princeville Mayor Glennie Matthewson says there wasn't much thereat first.

But the freed slaves, energized by their new-found liberty, withstoodadversity and developed their town. The first church, Mt. Zion PrimitiveBaptist, was built in 1871 and is still in use today.

It was in 1885 that residents renamed the town Princeville after fellowslave and founding resident Turner Prince. Today, residents like78-year-old Sam Bryant take pride in the town. He says he would preferthat Princeville remain independent.

While Princeville enjoys a unique history some doubt that an all-blacktown can survive on the eve of the turn of the century,anddevelop aprosperous future.

Princeville is under intense financial pressure with businesses comingand going with increasing frequency. A notice at the town hall saysgarbage pick-up has been cut from twice to once per week. Only a handfulof small businesses appear to be doing well, but there are supporters whobelieve the town will survive.

Reverend A.C. Batchelor was once a mayor of Princeville. He says thereis a future there.

Some say Princeville is a courageous little town holding on to its pastand fighting for its future while believing it will overcome.

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