At the close of the Civil War, former slaves seeking protection and freedom left the plantations for Union troop encampments. Following the departure of Union soldiers, many of the now-freed slaves remained behind and settled in an area named Freedom Hill.
The community’s 1880 population totaled 379 people. The largest number of residents, fifty-five, were day laborers, laundresses, and washerwomen. The community was also home to eight carpenters, seven blacksmiths, four grocers, three seamstresses and three brick masons. One of the carpenters, ex-slave, Turner Prince, had lived in Freedom Hill since its founding; residents renamed the community in honor of him when it was incorporated in 1885.
By 1910, Princeville’s population had increased to 636, half of its adult residents could read and write, and the town contained a growing number of black merchants and artisans. In 1912, the primary school added a high school curriculum. Several Baptist and Methodist congregations also built churches in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Excerpts from the article, “Town of Princeville NC – Our History,” in the section History, found on the website, Town of Princeville: Oldest Town Chartered by Blacks in America (http://www.townofprinceville.com), accessed 20 January 2021.