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  • Writer's pictureCheryl R. Lane

Dismal Swamp Communities

In my book, Wellington Cross, I refer to an ex-slave, Fanny, going to a community with other ex-slaves down at the Great Dismal Swamp. This is a real swamp that covers a large area in Virginia and into North Carolina, and there really were communities living there, as early as the 1600s. It consisted of escaped slaves, Native Americans, free African-Americans, enslaved African-American canal laborers, and even criminals. They were secret communities and the inhabitants had to survive harsh conditions including bears, snakes, biting insects, heat and humidity, as well as isolation while trying to keep it secret. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about it in her 1856 book, "Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp." Many thanks to my cousin-in-law Sherrie, who is also an author, for telling me about this in an article from "Popular Archeology." ~ February 25, 2013

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