Located on Roanoke Island in Dare County, North Carolina, the small community of Wanchese has witnessed its fair share of historical events. From early Native American settlements to the first English attempts at colonization, this region is rich in history. Here are seven historical events that have taken place near Wanchese, NC.
1. Native American Settlements:
Long before European settlers arrived, the Algonquian-speaking Roanoke tribe inhabited the area around Wanchese. These Native Americans, who were part of the larger Powhatan Confederacy, had a complex society and a strong connection to the land. Evidence of their presence can still be found, including pottery shards and other artifacts.
2. Roanoke Colony:
In 1587, Sir Walter Raleigh sponsored an English colony on Roanoke Island, near present-day Wanchese. Led by John White, the colony which became known as the "Lost Colony" due to its mysterious disappearance, was one of the first English attempts at settlement in the New World. John White, in fact, is said to have landed near Wanchese before heading to the island, making this region intrinsically tied to the story of the lost colony.
One of the most prominent figures associated with the Roanoke Colony was Manteo, a member of the Croatan tribe. Manteo was a liaison between the colonists and the Native Americans, helping to foster a peaceful relationship between the two groups. As the first Native American to be baptized as a Christian, his story is a testament to the early interactions between Europeans and Native Americans.
4. English Privateering:
During the 17th century, the waters near Wanchese were a haven for English privateers. These privateers were authorized by the British crown to attack and plunder Spanish ships. The spoils from these attacks greatly enriched the local population and contributed to the growth of the region.
5. Civil War Battles:
During the American Civil War, Roanoke Island and the surrounding areas became strategic points of interest for both the Union and Confederate forces. In 1862, Union troops led by General Ambrose Burnside launched an attack on Confederate defenses located near Wanchese. The Battle of Roanoke Island resulted in an overwhelming Union victory, securing control over the area for the remainder of the war.
6. Modern Fisheries Industry:
In the early 20th century, the Outer Banks region, including Wanchese, experienced a boom in the fishing industry. The abundance of fish and the establishment of modern fish processing plants led to the rise of Wanchese as a significant fishing village. Today, Wanchese is still considered a hub for commercial fishing with a thriving seafood industry.
7. Aviation History:
The nearby town of Kitty Hawk is famous for being the birthplace of powered aviation, thanks to the Wright brothers' historic flight of 1903. Their achievement revolutionized transportation and had a global impact. Although Kitty Hawk is not in Wanchese, the influence of the Wright brothers' achievement is felt throughout the region and is an essential part of its historical narrative.
As the years have passed, Wanchese, NC, has continued to evolve while still preserving its rich history. From the Native American settlements to the English attempts at colonization, the Civil War battles to the modern fishing industry, and the nearby aviation history, this small community has stood witness to significant historical events. Exploring the area allows visitors to unravel the stories of the past and appreciate the cultural richness that Wanchese has to offer.
Listen On: Spotify | Apple | Google