People and Places with Pierce: The Harlowe Fighters

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HARLOWE, N.C. (WNCT) – Straddling the Craven-Carteret County line, the small community of Harlowe has big ties to the early days of America.

“About 4 years ago, I was asked to get involved in trying to prove that there were free African American Patriots who came from the Harlowe area,” said Guy Higgins, a historian and member of the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. “We were able to prove that there were 14 men … on either side of Clubfoot Creek … who served in the American Revolution.”

No one was more shocked by the news than Harlowe native Edward Carter.

“I was totally surprised,” said Edward Carter, president of the Patriot Isaac Carter Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. “Doing research on our family history, little did we realize that they found and discovered that our descendants were Patriots and fought in the war with George Washington.”

Together, Ed and Guy would start the Patriot Isaac Carter chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, the first chapter named after an African American.

“Of the 25 men that we currently have as primary members, 23 of them are African American so we can easily say we are the only predominantly African American chapter in the S.A.R.,” said Higgins.

“All of us minority members of that chapter are all descendants of the Patriot Isaac Carter,” added Carter. “We’re working now real hard to try to find descendants of the other noted heroes.”

And until they do, there’s one place where all 14 men are honored.

“We decided to dedicate a memorial plaque to those 14 men,” said Higgins.

The plaque is now proudly displayed at the Harlowe Community Center. And with the dedication comes a new chapter in the lives of Ed and Guy.

“The country we have wouldn’t be what it is without those people’s contributions,” said Higgins. “But the African American Patriots were left out of the historical discussion for almost 200 years. That’s just wrong. Historians now say that somewhere between 10 and 20-percent of the American army was black during the Revolution.”

“We have to challenge our young children, especially the black children, to learn our history,” added Carter.

“Young black children need to understand that they are just as invested in this country as young white children are,” said Higgins. “And young white children need to understand that too.”

“Something that really disturbs me in life, having my father be killed in a racial incident, is to see people who hate,” said Carter. “Hatred takes a lot of energy, and it’s so counterproductive. On the other hand, it is wonderful to be able forgive and move forward and to concentrate on the positive things. I think that’s what we owe our future generation.”

Over 200 years later, 14 free men of color, the Harlowe fighters, are finally getting their page in the history books.

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