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All together now: Immigrant stories in Cumberland County


Did you know that by the 1770s, one-third of the people in Cumberland, Moore, Robeson, Harnett and Hoke counties were of Scottish descent? In fact, by 2006, North Carolina had more people of Scottish descent than any other state or county in the world, including Scotland.

Such immigrant stories are on display in the Local & State History Department’s new exhibit at Headquarters Library, 300 Maiden Lane.

A display on the blue wall just outside the department’s entrance describes in detail the history of immigration to Fayetteville by Scottish, Greek and Moravian populations, as well as the African American experience. Take a glimpse into these stories beginning with the Scots in 1739, the Moravians in 1753 and the Greeks in 1890.

The display also tells the story of the forced migration of the enslaved Black population, which rose from 800 in 1712 to more than 100,000 by the time of the first federal census in 1790.

Two tall exhibit cases focus on the history and culture of Scottish, Greek and Moravian immigrants. On display are a variety of artifacts. Some are on loan from the Moravian archives in Winston-Salem, including a Bible from 1792. Scottish artifacts from Fort Liberty’s Cultural Resources Management Program show the rural lives of early Scottish settlers. Several items related to the Greek immigrant experience in Fayetteville are on loan from a private citizen.

One of our flat exhibit cases showcases the African American experience. View imagery of enslaved people, such as poet George Moses Horton,;Harriet Ann Jacobs and Omar Ibn Said, both of whom wrote their autobiographies; and politician Abraham Galloway. All four were able to leave a legacy despite their bondage. A Scottish sword and replica of a dirk used in the Battle of Sheriffmuir in 1715 is on display in the second case.

Inside the Local & State History Room, different family stories of the immigrant experience in North Carolina are on display. These include Moravian Bishop August Spangenberg, who traveled to Forsyth County in the early 1750s. The bishop reported that the colony was confusing, had poor trade prospects and had horse thieves.

More recent stories focus on the experience of modern-day migrant families: many have come from Latin America and now dominate the construction and farm-labor industries. Just like today, most immigrants in North Carolina’s past came to escape hardships and poverty, seeking a better life here.

From now through October, stop by the Local & State History Room to learn about Fayetteville’s rich history of immigration and migration, or call 910-483-7727, Ext. 1365.

To learn about other Cumberland County Public Library programs, visit cumberlandcountync.gov/library or come by one of our eight locations.

Jessica Knecht is a library associate in the Local & State History Department.

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library, immigration, local history, exhibits, immigrants