Richard Etheridge (1842-1900) and his family were buried on property that he purchased in the vicinity of the former Freedman’s Colony, and today you can visit his gravesite and public memorial adjacent to the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Inside the Aquarium, you can enjoy a gallery of original portraits painted by local artist James Melvin in tribute to their legacy as part of your experience. Of the 609 documented rescues at sea by the Pea Island Lifesaving Station crew during its operational history from 1880 to decommissioning in 1947, the most famous was the rescue of the crew of the E.S. Newman during an October 1896 hurricane. Richard Etheridge was the first African- American to hold the rank of Keeper of a life-saving station. This meant that, under the racial standards of the times, the entire crew under his command would have to be black. Although other black men had served as surfmen at Pea Island and other stations, Pea Island Station came to be manned entirely by a black keeper and crew.
The Freedman’s Colony 1862-1867 | NC Aquarium on Roanoke Island
374 Airport Road
Manteo, NC 27954
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily