(front of marker) The first African-American slaves were brought to Caroline County around 1700. Few records were kept of their existence, except for their status and value as property and the occasional brush with the law. Many slaves of Caroline County were executed for their participation in slave uprisings or rebellions, while others were rewarded by their slave master for their loyalty and betrayal of their slave brothers and sisters.
Slave labor cleared the vast wilderness Caroline once was and built huge tobacco plantations and palatial mansions. Tobacco was the main crop of the County at that time. There were, however, only three small trading centers in Caroline, two of which were located on the Rappahannock River. Slave labor was used in the road-building program to unite the three districts and furnish the planters with an overland road to the Rappahannock.
Caroline County was home to a few free African-Americans who prospered quite well. Some were granted their freedom, while others were born free. Most free men were skilled craftsmen, such as blacksmiths, coachbuilders, etc.
Slaves participated in the Civil War in support of the Union Army. At the end of the war, Caroline County supported growth and prosperity. People of color became landowners, entrepreneurs and government officials.
(side of marker) Caroline Religious Society of Friends Established 1739
Known as Quakers, the Caroline Friends were pioneers in the County's frontier wilderness who were distinguished in the development of social and economic ideals significant to the county, state and nation.
Early social inventions such as economic development, banking, insurance and fixed prices for commodities were among those established within the County by the Caroline Friends. Their practices in social justice and human rights including the right of religious freedom, women's voting rights and condemnation of slaveholding, were among exemplary ideals they embraced.
In their meetinghouse at Golansville on May 9, 1767, the Caroline Friends, together with the Cedar Creek Friends Meeting of Hanover, undertook the first organized movement in the Virginia Colony to abolish slavery, forever marking their place in American history.
(back of marker) The Peopling of Caroline County
When English settlers arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, the area that later became Caroline County was occupied by seven tribes of Native Americans - the Pamunkeys, Mattaponys, Youngtamunds, Secobees, Nantangtacunds, Mannohcos and the Dogues.
The first European to explore the area now called Caroline County was Captain John Smith, within a year after he landed at Jamestown. The earliest merchants were English, but by the mid-18th century, the Scottish arrived and were joined by French merchants at the end of the century.
Jews arrived during colonial times and by the time Caroline became a county, the Irish had established businesses in the County. Germans operated businesses in the County in the latter part of the 19th century and persons of Italian descent were among the first settlers in the Port Royal area even before the establishment of the County.
After 1685, Huguenots left France, fled to England and later settled in Caroline County. The 20th century ushered in many changes in the population of the County. In 1908, a number of Slovaks arrived from Pennsylvanian and New Jersey and settled on depleted land in the upper part of Caroline. Following the world wars of the 20th century, Caroline saw settlers from many nations and every continent.
History has brought together the people of Caroline County from many diverse cultures, and in ways as different as the people who comprise our community. What we once saw dimly as differences, we now see clearly as diversity. Mutual understanding derived from unique experiences is the strength of Caroline.
(side of marker) Dedicated to the history, culture and heritage of the African-American citizens of Caroline County. African-American citizens of Caroline overcame slavery and other forms of prejudice to make many significant contributions to the County, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States of America. Pioneers in the fields of government, education, civil rights and religion include:
*Lorenzo Boxley and Luther Morris - First African-American Member of the Board of Supervisors
*Christine Tillman - First Female African-American Member of the Board of Supervisors
*Harvey Latney, Jr. - First African-American Commonwealth's attorney
*Luther Morris - First African-American Clerk of the Circuit Court
*Chester Sizer - First African-American Member of the School Board
*Stanley Jones - First African-American Superintendent of Schools
*Reverend R.W. Young, Reverend A.P. Young and the Caroline Baptist Sunday School Union who founded and built Union High School (which now serves as the Caroline County Community Services Center)
*Reverend L.L. Davis - First Principal of Caroline Training School (former Union High School)
*James Shelby Guss - First African-American Director of Instruction for the Virginia Education Association and First African-American to serve on the Board of Directors for the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative
*Ed Ragland - First African-American State Director for the Farmer's Home Administration
*Mildred Loving, who along with her husband Richard, helped strike down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the United States