Spotlight on nominee Pea Island Preservation Society

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nominee Pea Island Preservation Society

Next in our series of posts about new Charitocracy OBX nominees, we have nominee Pea Island Preservation Society, nominated by donor boldpath. They preserve and interpret the history of The Pea Island Life Saving Station and the only African American keeper in the USLSS, Richard Etheridge and African Americans of Roanoke Island. You can find their web site here.

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About nominee Pea Island Preservation Society

The Pea Island Cookhouse Museum is located in the town of Manteo on Roanoke Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Commonly called the Cookhouse Museum, the museum is housed in the original cookhouse building that was part of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station. In 2006, the cookhouse was moved to Sir Walter Raleigh Street at Collins Park, a small park a few blocks opposite downtown Manteo. After renovating the cookhouse, in 2008 the Cookhouse Museum was opened to commemorate and remember the dedication and service that the black lifesavers of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station contributed to the history of America.

In 1880, Richard Etheridge, a former slave born on Roanoke Island who was taught to read and write and who had also served with Colored Troops during the Civil War, was named the Keeper of the Station. Under Etheridge’s leadership the crew of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station performed hundreds of rescues in some of the most treacherous of seas along the coastal United States, an area referred to as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for the many ships that sank there. The station is most known for the October 11, 1896, rescue of the entire nine member crew of the three-masted schooner the E.S. Newman when the vessel caught in a terrifying storm was blown 100 miles south off course and came ashore two miles south of the Pea Island station. Albeit some one hundred years later, in 1996 Richard Etheridge and his crew were posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for this rescue, a rescue that has been documented as one of the most heroic rescues in U.S. Coast Guard history.

Following the death of Richard Etheridge in 1900, the Pea Island station was continually manned by African American Keepers and crew members until the station was decommissioned in 1947. Besides the legacy of Richard Etheridge and his crew, the museum also honors the service of other blacks who followed in their footsteps and served at the station until it closed. These additional men, including Keepers Benjamin Bowser, Lewis Wescott, William Irving, George Pruden, Maxie Berry, Sr., and Surfman Herbert Collins, the last Surfman to remain at the station before it closed, helped Pea Island to continually earn the reputation as one of the best stations along the coastal Outer Banks for the duration of its existence.

So check out this video about the Pea Island Cookhouse Museum and the brave African American men it commemorates, then please visit the page of Pea Island Preservation Society to vote for, like, or discuss this cause!

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