The area known as Cannon's Ferry is a long-standing community that has been shaped by the Chowan river. In 1794, Jacob Cannon of Perquimans County purchased for $126.00 in gold and silver "one-third part of the Land Plantation of Houses and all the improvements thereunto belonging, with all waters and profits therefrom arising." The property remained in the Cannon family for close to 85 years.
Throughout the next century, many families moved into the area; most all were associated with the river. Some worked on the ferry that ran from this site to Edenton and to Colerain. Others maintained the herring fishing traditions that are unique to this area.
One such tradition was Easter Monday. Large herring runs occurred simultaneously with the Easter holiday. The Monday after Easter community members came to Cannon's Ferry to buy, sell, and eat herring as fishermen and cannery workers continued to work. Accounts of the event state that there were so many people there it was hard to walk.
Local foodways were dependent upon herring as a staple at one time. During the Depression, people ate pickled and smoked herring along with vegetables such as corn, sweet potatoes, and collards they grew in their gardens. Roe was also a popular food item, either fried or scrambled in eggs. Locally caught herring and roe continue to be a common item on many regional restaurants menus.
"Long time ago, Cannon's Ferry was in the bloom. People wouldn't go no where to buy fish but Cannon's Ferry." -Betty Bond, cutter at Cannon's Ferry
Top Ieft: Cannon's Ferry prior to the 1940s. (Courtesy of the famiIy of Earl Jordan); Bottom left: A fish house located at this site — no date. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History); Center: Aerial photo of Cannon's Ferry —1969 (Courtesy of Bobby Byrum); Right: The Byrum family is one of the local families who have been fishing for several generations. Joe Byrum stands on the porch of his son's (Herbert Byrum) fish house. (Courtesy of Frank Stephenson, Jr.)