Video: History of the Great Dismal Swamp

I’m feeling tired for reasons, so today I’m just sharing something I came across while working on my current novel. I think swamps are fascinating as ecosystems (I’m not sure there are any ecosystems that aren’t fascinating), but the Great Dismal Swamp is special for its role in American history. It was initially a stop on the Underground Railroad, where Black people escaping from slavery could use difficult, wet terrain to hide from their pursuers. Over time, some people decided that the difficulties of living in the swamp were preferable to the difficulties of living at the mercy of white society, and so they formed communities out there. There’s a lot that we still don’t know about them, but maybe we’ll learn more some day. As Eric Sheppard says in the video, while there aren’t written records of these communities, their descendants are still out there (Sheppard is one), and some of them may still have an oral history of their families. It’s easy to forget, with the internet at our fingertips, how much we still don’t know about even fairly recent human history.

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