Charles’ Corner and Post-Emancipation Community Building in Tidewater Virginia

Shannon Mahoney at SCR-20, 1995

Shannon Mahoney at transit at CA-SCR-20 during the 1995 Cabrillo field school.

“Charles’ Corner and Post-Emancipation Community Building in Tidewater Virginia,” by Shannon Mahoney. After the Civil War, African American families settled in an area on Virginia’s Lower Peninsula that came to be known as Charles’ Corner. Over the course of the next fifty years, residents developed substantial homesteads and achieved a significant degree of economic stability, providing an alternative to the sharecropping and tenancy narratives commonly associated with the post-bellum South. In 1918, Charles’ Corner families were forced to relocate after the land was commandeered by presidential proclamation in order to create a naval facility on the York River. Although the Navy demolished the superstructures almost immediately, the secure environment and lack of development on the property preserved the homesteads as archaeological sites that encapsulate a precarious and poorly-understood period of African American history. Charles’ Corner provides the opportunity to assess the process of community building for African Americans after Emancipation through the application of data from the archaeological record, historical documents, and oral histories.

1995 Field School class in trench

1995 Cabrillo field school class photo at SCR-20. Shannon is in the back row, third from right.

Shannon S. Mahoney is an Associate Archaeologist at ASM Affiliates in Reno, Nevada. She started her career as an archaeologist in Santa Cruz after receiving an A.S. in Archaeology at Cabrillo College and a B.A. in Anthropology at U.C. Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz Archaeological Society provided a valuable connection to California archaeology while she was attending graduate school in Virginia. In 2008, the Society provided her with funding to complete the fieldwork for her dissertation entitled “Community Building After Emancipation: An Anthropological Study of Charles’ Corner, Virginia, 1862-1922.” She is honored to present her dissertation work to the Society and would like to thank SCAS members for their support.

Event information: This General Meeting will be held at 7:30 PM on February 20, 2014 at the Sesnon House at Cabrillo College, 6500 Soquel Drive, Aptos, CA. Click here for directions to the Sesnon House.

Comments are closed.