Perquimans County 
Restoration Association, Inc.

Friends to Freedom Trail

A NC Heritage Wagon Train

Hertford, Beach Springs, BelvidereBagley Swamp, Winfall

 MARCH 17-20, 2011 

 No. A horse is not needed to enjoy food, fun, live entertaiment, crafts, parade and more.

Yes. A horse or horse drawn wagon is required to participate in the wagon train itself.

(This is not a historical renactment but rather a fun filled commemorative event for the whole family to enjoy.)


A unique event honoring Perquimans County's early American Quaker heritage, this 4 day wagon train event recounts the Friends exodus from Perquimans County, NC to the free Northwest Territories.


So why did many Quakers leave 

Perquimans County? 


Among the earliest settlers of the Albemarle Region were Quakers Henry Phelps and Christopher Nicholson.  The Royal Charter of the colony granted “freedom of conscience in all things religious”, and many who found religious persecution in Virginia and elsewhere began to filter through the Great Dismal Swamp to the frontier of Carolina.  In 1672 the founder of Quakerism (or the Religious Society of Friends), George Fox, visited Perquimans and the surrounding precincts, preaching to the settlers, and staying at the home of Joseph Scott on the site of the Newbold-White House.  Many converted to this new religion of simplicity and equality, and by the beginning of the 18th century local politics and government were controlled by the dominant Quaker population, including at least one Quaker governor, John Archdale.  


The basic tenets of Quaker faith and practice hold that all humans are equal in the eyes of God, and this led Friends to seek peaceful relation with the Native Americans they encountered in the New World.  Following the example of William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, Friends (or Quakers) sought to purchase their lands from the Natives, and to learn from them about the wilderness and how to make a living in it.  This same attitude soon led Friends to believe that the enslavement of fellow human beings was also wrong. 


As more and more settlers moved into the colony, and the Anglican Church increased its presence, conflicts arose between Quakers and non-Quakers over the Quaker influence, and steps were taken to drive them from public office.  Knowing the Quaker position against the swearing of oaths, in 1710 Governor Edward Hyde finally instituted a law requiring that oaths of loyalty to the crown be taken by all officials in the colonial government.  This effectively ended direct Quaker involvement in government, but not in local life.


As the American colonies moved towards revolution and a fight for their freedom from the tyranny of an absentee government, Friends uneasiness with the institution of slavery grew stronger, leading locals such as Thomas Newby and others to begin attempts to free their own slaves.   First bringing his concern to Perquimans Monthly Meeting in 1774, Newby and other Friends pondered the matter for three years.  In 1777, Newby and ten other Quakers in Perquimans freed over forty slaves.  This first endeavor ended in disaster as the freed slaves were captured by the Perquimans Sheriff and put up for re-sale into bondage.  This only fueled the Quakers’ conviction that slavery was wrong and spurred them to find ways through and around the legal difficulties of freeing their slaves. The following year North Carolina Yearly Meeting of Friends prohibited the buying or selling of slaves by its members.


One solution was to remove the slaves bodily from the area, and by the late eighteenth century Friends had begun organized movement of slaves north to the New England states, East to African colonies such as Liberia, and west to the new free territories of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.  By the 1820’s and ‘30’s, a fairly regular stream of Quakers was leaving not only Perquimans County, but other sections of North Carolina and the South carrying human cargos to a new life of freedom.  Many of the Friends who left with intentions of returning home were enticed by both the rich new farmlands and opportunities of the west as well as the freedom they encountered in non-slave holding territories, and wound up settling in the areas west of the Mississippi.  A look at the oldest cities and towns of Indiana and Ohio reads like a map of North Carolina and the South with beloved place names such as New Garden, Richmond and others given to the new settlements formed by Friends.


As the country moved towards Civil War and the final abolition of slavery, conflict by non-slave-owning Quakers and their slave holding neighbors increased.  Two Friends meetinghouses in Perquimans burned almost simultaneously, possibly as a result of anti-abolitionist arson.  With such a climate of antagonism, most Friends felt it best to seek a new life in the west, and the Great Migration began in earnest.  Where the Albemarle area had been home to more than a dozen Quaker congregations at the turn of the nineteenth century, all but one were gone by the time of the Civil War.


Friends to Freedom Wagon train commemorates and honors this significant era in Perquimans County’s Quaker past. We hope you will join us for four days of fun, food and folks as we honor a moment in history. 


Be a friend and be a part of our Perquimans heritage.

Detailed Overview  UPDATED 1/29/11
 with maps.

UPDATED 1/12/11

Event flyer
 UPDATED 1/30/11

For spectators Wagon Route  times

For Riders & Wagon driver
 Registration & Liabilty Forms

UPDATED 1/30/11

Many Sponsorship Opportunities
$50 - $500 sponsorship available
More information UPDATE 1/29/11


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